When I was little, there was a TV show called The Waltons. Each show ended with the lights down in the house and all of the family members hollering good night to each other from various rooms. I wanted a family like that. One with lots of siblings who love each other so much that they have to get that last “good night” in before their head hits the pillow.
Growing up, I only had one sibling, and let’s just say the relationship was rather contentious until we were about 30. I figured there was just something wrong with us and vowed to do better when I became a parent.
Then my kids were born.
I quickly learned the truth about kids fighting. Turns out, conflict is a normal part of life. Any two people put in the same space will eventually have different ideas, goals, and desires. (Just get married, and you’ll figure that one out!)
But here’s the thing. We don’t have to give up on the idea of building strong sibling relationships. We are just going to have to be intentional about helping our kids cope with their differences and better learn to resolve that inevitable conflict. One of the best ways to do this is to be PROACTIVE about teaching our kids to stir up love (instead of trouble) with acts of kindness.
7 Acts of Kindness for Siblings to Stir Up Love
1. Speak kind words.
One of the best ways to start stirring up love is with our words! Proverbs 16:24 tells us that gracious or kind words are sweet like honey, and Proverbs 15:4 describes a gentle tongue as a “tree of life.” Take a moment to think about those images. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have that kind of beautiful peace in our homes?
We can accomplish so much with just our words! Though we often tell our kids to be kind or say nice things, we can’t assume they know what “kind words” should look like. They might just need some inspiration! That’s why we included space in the Sibling Challenge Journal for kids to record their ideas. When you give kids tools, they can stir up acts of kindness for their siblings without the roadblock of not knowing what to say. As a bonus, these words are great to practice for sharing love with anyone in their lives!
2. Do something extra “just because.”
Stirring up acts of kindness for your siblings starts with your words, but kind words need to be backed up by kind actions. And no, your kids aren’t the only ones who find it difficult to stir up kind actions “just because.” Here’s what I teach my kids. Kindness is not something we necessarily feel like doing, and it’s not something we do because the other person has done it to us. We can be the FIRST person to do something kind, and we don’t need a reason to do it. Our Sibling Challenge Game cards share lots of practical ideas even for younger kids, like making a snack or drink for your sibling or giving him or her a back or foot rub!
3. Make food together.
The kitchen is such a wonderful place to stir up love—and yummy treats! Working together to get through a recipe is a great way to inspire sibling kindness and love. Who doesn’t love making a bit of a mess and getting to enjoy a treat afterward? We will sometimes even give the extra goodies away to friends, neighbors, or elderly people. Once you get stirring, the love goes everywhere!
Another way to turn food into an opportunity for kindness and love is having a picnic. Picnics take a bit of creativity and extra planning, and a lot of kids are way better at this than you might think! In our home, we have a special blanket and basket specifically for having picnics. Getting to use these special items is super fun for the kids, and they get to use their creativity to come up with fun ways to help their siblings enjoy the whole experience.
4. Write an encouraging note.
I don’t know about you, but to me, one of the kindest things someone can do for me is to write me a note. I feel loved when I see that someone took the time to tell me in writing that they love me or are praying for me or that I’m doing a good job. (This is why my office has notes from friends and my kids all over it).
I love the time and intentionality that notes show, so I encourage my kids to use notes as a way to stir up love! Siblings may write out in a note something they would have trouble finding the words to say out loud. Maybe they can take the time to explain why they love their sibling or encourage their sibling in something they’ve seen them do well in. Something we do is hide notes where the other person is likely to find them. Then, in the middle of school or a chore, that sibling is encouraged and feels loved!
It may be hard to find the right words to say in a note at first. But we’ve got you covered! Our Sibling Challenge Journal includes small love note prompts for siblings to write and give to each other! These notes, while small, are an intentional way to act in kindness.
5. Serve them.
Romans 12:10 encourages Christians to show love to one another by “outdoing one another in showing honor.” Showing honor might not be the first thing on your child’s list of things to do, but it is so valuable to learn! And showing honor often just looks like seeing needs and meeting them—sounds a lot like serving people, right?
Service is a huge way for siblings to show each other kindness and love. Suggest your child do a chore for their sibling without being asked to help or expecting anything in return. Siblings can also clear each other’s dishes or help clean up a mess to show kindness as well. Serving can be as simple as giving up the favorite living room chair and allowing a sibling to sit there instead. Encourage your kids to look for opportunities they can find to serve—they are everywhere!
6. Build something together.
1 Corinthians 16:14 encourages us to do everything in love! So whether it’s intentionally serving someone or just going about our normal routine, we can be motivated by this verse. This is why we can make doing fun things together a way to show love! One really fun thing my kids love doing is building something together. They get to put all their creativity into making something and also learn to work together for a common goal!
Whether it’s a fort, an obstacle course, LEGO city, or a lemonade stand, working together to solve problems is an awesome way to work on kindness and stirring each other up to love. Plus, there will be giggles and silly situations they will remember for many years.
As your kids grow older, encourage them to build bigger things together like a charity fundraising campaign, a gift for someone, or even plan a family vacation.
7. Talk with your sibling about Jesus.
Ultimately, the greatest expression of kindness and love toward someone else is telling them about Jesus! We often make this more complicated than it has to be. Telling someone about Jesus doesn’t necessarily mean we sit down with the Romans Road and spell out the plan of salvation for them. We simply might share something learned in our own quiet time with God or something from church. Maybe it’s sharing an answer to prayer. However that ends up happening, when it does, it is one of the biggest encouragements to hear my children telling each other about Jesus in love.
Another awesome way to show love to a sibling is by praying for them. Maybe they are nervous before a sports game or recital, or they aren’t sure about a certain friendship. Children are never too young to start casting their cares on Jesus (1 Peter 5:7). Siblings that know how to encourage this are wonderful examples of love! And sharing our needs with each other stirs us to love and grow closer to those we have shared with.
Do you want a little help nurturing the sibling relationship? Consider getting your kids a Bible study they can do together! It’s not a magic pill, but God’s Word is always faithful! Our My Brother’s Keeper study goes deeper into the nitty-gritty of sibling life and learning to be the kind of sibling God wants your kids to be.
I hope this has excited you about all the ways we can encourage our kids to stir each other up to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24) through acts of kindness.
Through practical tools & Bible-based resources, Kim Sorgius is dedicated to helping your family GROW in faith so you can be Not Consumed by life’s struggles. Author of popular kid’s devotional Bible studies and practical homeschooling tools, Kim has a master’s degree in education and curriculum design coupled with over 2 decades of experience working with kids and teens. Above all, her most treasured job is mother and homeschool teacher of four amazing kiddos.