Words that hurt

Parenting both the name-caller and name-called

In this Q & A, Jim and Lynne take 4 minutes to respond to a question from a mom and dad regarding their son’s hurtful words to his siblings.

“Our son constantly criticizes and teases our daughters – and anyone else that he sees as weaker than himself. It hurts them. While we want to lovingly correct our son, we also want to show our daughters that we are for them and want to protect them. We find it hard to do both. What should we do?”

When to Intervene in Sibling Squabbles

They’re at it again. You can hear them in the next room and you want it to stop. Now. Your children are having a heated debate that seems to be escalating by the minute. Should you intervene or should you let them fight it out?

As parents we all long for our kids to get along and be friends, but their fighting can seem to be a constant negative and never-ending cycle. In our decades of coaching and teaching parents (and raising our own squabbling crew!), we have found a few guiding principles to help you as you steer your kids towards peace and connection at home.   

Only intervene when it is obviously necessary.

The temptation for many parents, when they hear their children in conflict, is to intervene quickly and make it stop. You want quiet. You want peace. You have things to do and you don’t have time for this! However – when we intervene too soon or too often we are cheating our children out of a great opportunity to learn lifelong negotiation and peacemaking skills. These clashes when they are young help equip our kids with the necessary skills they will need to use in the future when they disagree with a co-worker or friend or are engaged in what seems like the hundredth “debate” they are having with a spouse.

WHEN, then, is it “obviously necessary”?

Turn Name-Calling into Connection

“You’re dumb!”
“No, YOU’RE dumb!”
“Well, you’re a loser!”
“I know you are, but what am I?”
“You’re a butthead!”

“MOMMMMMMMMM!!!!”

Name-calling between children is a challenge for many families. Once kids get on a roll of slinging names back and forth it can seem like an express train to a sibling meltdown. But it doesn’t have to be that way! You can help your kids turn their angry words into an opportunity to connect and build even stronger relationships.

Family Gatherings

Who's in Charge?

Large family holiday gatherings can be tough for lots of reasons. Over-stimulated, over-sugared,  over-excited and under-slept kids are simply going to struggle. But there may also be some relational dynamics that complicate things when you all get together. See if you relate to this pattern:

  1. You feel anxious around the watchful, possibly critical eye of parents or other relatives.
  2. You work harder to keep kids in line and are tougher on them than usual.
  3. Your kids (who are already extra stressed) sense your angst and act up more.
  4. Gramma or Grampa (or others) intervene to keep youngsters in line, with good intentions but unhelpful strategies.
  5. You feel embarrassed, undermined, and maybe frustrated or resentful.
  6. Kids watch the power struggle between the adults and are left feeling more stressed and insecure than ever.
  7. Repeat.

Is the holiday stew smelling rotten yet? If so, this post is for you.

Trash, Truth, Treasure

Helping kids turn anger into wisdom

When our child gets teased, battered and bullied by another child’s hurtful words, we parents are inclined to step in and fix it by saying things like, “Oh honey, that’s not true.” Or, “You don’t deserve that.” Or maybe we’ll criticize the aggressor (especially if that aggressor is an older sibling). Quick fix responses like this may settle things down in the short-term, but keep parents in the role of managing all the difficult emotions instead of empowering their kids. This article will teach you how to equip your kids to filter through what others say to them and respond wisely instead of cover their hurt feelings with anger.  

We’ve coached many parents how to equip their kids with wisdom to assess the value of what others say to them. You too can help your children learn to place the things others say to them in one of three categories: Trash, Truth and Treasure.

3 Game-Changing Questions to Show Your Kids They’re Worth It


It can be hard work to grow as a parent.
Especially when no matter how hard you try, things can still go haywire. Old patterns die hard, and it’s normal to fall into the default of huffing and puffing to get your own sense of control. But don’t lose heart! Here’s a simple strategy to keep learning and growing, and to help your child do the same – even when things blow up.

Positive growth can start by settling down, and remembering God’s grace for you. When the tension is high, take a break to let you and your child calm down. In that space, take some deep breaths, and remember that we’re all under grace. Then, go to your child with these three questions:

Can We Get Kids to Say “Sorry” Like They Mean It?

When kids fight, parents typically try to resolve things by telling the kids they have to say they’re sorry.

While parents may be aware that this can be a very shallow, “go through the motions” sort of consequence for kids, they may also struggle to know what to do instead — “How else will my kids know that they should say they’re sorry?”

We can’t make our kids give a heartfelt apology. But we’ve found that not only can kids learn the importance of apologizing and reconciling from the heart, but they can even learn to the point where they value reconciliation enough to mend broken relationships themselves!

In this short 3 minute video, Lynne shares a helpful illustration to explain conflict resolution to kids, and some practical tips for teaching and modeling reconciliation in your home.


Join us for a five-session online course designed with busy parents in mind. In our course Sibling Conflict: From Bickering to Bonding we teach parents how to teach their kids The Peace Process. Could you use a little peace in your home? Join us today!

The Surprising Power of No, Yes, and Why

When our kids do something they’re not supposed to, or ask us for something they can’t have, often our reflexive response is a simple, quick, “No!” And our kids’ reflexive response to “no” can be frustration, resentment, or even a meltdown.

But a look at the Bible gives us another way to respond to our kids — one that still enforces boundaries, but helps kids to grow in wisdom even through the “no”.

Why “It Is NOT OK to Talk That Way!” Doesn’t Work

Not Okay to Talk that Way (1)

There are many ways in which parents intentionally or unintentionally model positive character qualities: self-control, caring, diligence, faithfulness, etc.

But we can also model negative character qualities, especially when we’re not thoughtful!

When our eldest son Daniel and I got into power struggles, I was keenly aware of how disrespectful he was! But I was usually oblivious to my own angry, shaming words and tone.

With a scowl, pointed finger, and strong tone I would grandly announce,

                                “It is NOT OK to talk like that!”

My condescending proclamations were an attempt to feel in charge, but did nothing to calm the conflict.