What is important to remember as you correct and discipline is this:  It is not about venting your feelings toward your child when he or she sins. It’s not about us, as parents; it’s about your child and fulfilling God’s directives for parenting. For example, one child picking on a sibling is the presenting sin problem. You might ask, “Why did you pick on your sibling?”  And so it goes – your child doesn’t know. As a parent, it is your job to probe: What made you upset with your sister?  (If he/she was first sinned against, let him speak, and he might tell you that she hit him first). How did hitting her back make you feel better? Help your child see what his heart motivation was (jealousy, resentment, getting even). Ask what he could have done differently. Coach him here. Pray with your child and lead him to see how he was tempted and then promote reconciliation, apologizing from the heart if you discern there is truly sorrow for sin. Lead your child to apologize and to receive forgiveness from his or her sibling. This takes TIME!  Pray together and thank God for his forgiveness, also. Naturally, the child who began the confrontation needs coaching and disciplining, as well.

Another example from my own life of parenting is this: I cannot recall how many times my children argued over who got the front seat as if it were something special. Nonetheless, there is this thing inside us that says, “front is for royalty – that’s me!” I did not handle this well and more than once I stopped the car and ‘had the talk’. Not good.  May I suggest a response that is more about shepherding the heart? Looking back, I should have probed the presenting sin – selfishness. Each child wanted to fulfill a self-centered desire. The biblical principle of putting another ahead of self would have been a good discussion upon our arrival home…and, after a snack. Shepherding hearts while children are hungry, angry, or tired (hats off!) is not wise. Find an appropriate time. You might want to wait until emotions have settled down, tummy is feeling more satisfied, and the situation has been put on ice for a while. As you probe, you might ask: Does getting what you want at the expense of your sibling really make you feel happy? (How did Jesus model selflessness?) Does your behavior (each of you) show love to your brother/sister? How can you show humility and unselfishness? (Phil. 2:3)  Perhaps thinking about the situation in your room for a little while might help you to resolve the conflict. If the front seat issue is not a ‘thing’ yet due to weight, I imagine it will be at some point.
One word of caution: One child might be the one who is always willing to be the first to the cross and to make amends. You will need to be wise in how you handle this as the kindness and conviction of one child’s heart might be taken advantage of by the child whose heart leans towards self-centeredness and self-righteous pride. You will need to be wise in this regard and know your children well.
For those of you with one child, perhaps you do not have the opportunity to see this issue with siblings, but I am sure you invite playmates to your home. That is a lovely time to see interactions. Also, I would recommend that you use conferences with your child’s teacher to inquire about playground behavior. Teachers observe play-time closely.  In terms of child development and growth, we feel it is just as important as the in-class piece.

So after resolving the issue of the heart, perhaps you could allow your children to move to a solution that has parental approval. You could coach them in conflict resolution. They might resolve to this pattern: Monday, one gets the front seat; Tuesdays, the other child gets the front seat and so on. The important issue here is that you have addressed their hearts. I have a dear friend who paraphrases 1 Corinthians 10:24 which states in the NIV, “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” She says, “My life works best when someone else is more important.” How true and biblical!