Preserving Family Harmony

***Anecdotes and advice from a Supermom of 12 children

Give your kids a civics lesson

In every family with plural offspring, there's going to be some amount of sibling rivalry. Rather than focus on avoiding jealousy, it's better for moms and dads to gird their parental loins and deal with it. What can you do to make the conflict manageable? Give your kids a civics lesson. Here's how:

Make the conflict manageable

Watch your tongue: teach kids to speak to each other with respect. Make a rule that every time one of your children insults another, he has to repair the damage with two compliments.

Don't play favorites: Compliment each of your children for their specific talents. Recognize the unique quality of each child without implying that one child is superior to another.

Conflict management: Show your children how to express themselves in an appropriate manner. Teach them not to use 'you' language. For example, you can teach your child to say, "I feel bad when 'someone' calls me 'stupid'."

Accentuate the positive: Look for positive behavior in your child and say something that lets your child know you've noticed.

Amazing traits: Find a way to praise and emphasize your child's inborn qualities (compassionate heart) as opposed to making a fuss over his good deeds (helping that old lady across the street). This can help to foster self-esteem rather than making him feel he's the sum of his deeds—that he has to prove himself again and again. Tell him, "I heard about what you did today. It just proved to me what I already knew—you're a boy with a good heart!"

Be a good example: Speak with respect to your own siblings so your child can have a good example to follow on how to speak to a sibling. Make a point of letting your child see you offer help to your siblings. For instance, offer to pick up the special chocolate your sister likes when you go to the store that carries this item. Or, offer to watch your nieces and nephews at a hectic time in your sibling's life. If your child witnesses an altercation between you and a sibling, let him see you repair the relationship.