Have you ever heard your kids quietly whisper "Brat" to their younger sibling because you said they could do something, and the older sibling didn't feel that it was a good idea.
I overheard it the other day and so I pulled the older sibling aside and talked with them about a scar I have on my shoulder.
"Do you see this scar? Do you know how I got it?" The head shakes back and forth - no. "A knife did that to me." Eyes widen. "It's from a surgery, actually. But what you did downstairs to your sibling was somewhat the same. You took a knife to your relationship and you stabbed them.
The wound was there after the surgery. We had to bandage it and put medicine on it. But the skin will never be the same. The same thing with your words to your sibling, you can say sorry and it will heal up more quickly, and it is the right thing to do, but your relationship will still have a scar. Thankfully, your sibling is young still and if you work at it, you may be able to repair it and help them forget, but you will have to work hard at it."
Today I heard more words. It seems that it's too hard to let "dumb" comments go - to let a different younger sibling say something totally off the wall and not get in their face about it. So I simply and quietly said, "A knife wounding a friend." We talked about it on the way to school as another older sibling thought he was exempt from it all. You did well today, maybe, but you have gotten on their case as well.
I think the example is effective for today to help them see what they are doing. There is nothing visual when we use harsh words, except maybe a tear or two, but nothing to stop us short. Nothing to hold us back the next time, like if we'd seen blood.
Even as an adult, I forget that my words sting as much sometimes as a slap on the face. My words need to be tempered with grace and love, and yet I need to remember sometimes as well that, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."
Keep pressing on,