The Sandwich Principle: How to Deliver Criticism to Your Siblings in Love

The Sandwhich Principle

A sweet friend shared this with me awhile back, and in light of my recent post about our character as sisters, I wanted to share this amazing idea with ya’ll!

As a sibling, their will be those times when we HAVE to point out things in our siblings lives- weaknesses, something they did wrong, etc. Our hearts are to help them grow.

Sometimes figuring our how to give admonition in a kind way can be tough! Enter The Sandwhich Principle! Here’s the idea:

You need to give a little constructive criticism to a sibling.

Instead of “Hey, Johnny, I need to talk to you. Do you have any idea what you just did (insert whatever mistake or action that needs to be corrected)? Why do you keep doing that? You need to stop and change! That is such a bad habit.”

Try this:

So first you sweetly take the sibling aside (always give criticism in private). You point out something in their life that is sweet + good. It may even be related to the issue at hand. For example, maybe your younger sis is bossing the littles kids around. You say something like, “Hey, I’m really blessed by the time you take with the younger ones! They love when you play with them!”

Then you insert the criticism, “You may not realize it, but you are taking charge and telling them what to do a lot, and being kinda bossy. I know you want to be kind, but sometimes when you treat them this way, it makes them feel sad.”

Top it off with another affirmation such as, “The younger ones look up to you so much! When you are sweet to them, they will want to act the same way.”

See what just happened? You “sandwiched” a criticism in between two sweet affirmations! Your sibling will be much more likely to listen and not be hurt by your instructions when you deliver it in such love!

The formula is:

praise + constructive criticism + praise = instruction/criticism given in an edible way! (We don’t want our siblings gagging on our “help” because it’s so harsh and sour!)

-Allison

ps. the photo above is my sweet sis-in-love to be, Cassidy, and I, with some of her siblings and mine on a lunch/play date at the park this summer. She is actually the wise soul that shared the “Sandwhich Principle” with me awhile back, and I am so grateful for her example in cultivating sweet + affirming relationships with younger siblings.

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5 Ways to Encourage Your Brothers

1. Pray for them.

Make it a point to ask each of your brothers for specific prayer requests from time to time, and then write those things down and pray for them regularly. I recommend praying for each of your brothers on a daily basis.

In addition to praying for them faithfully, be sure to follow up and ask them how it’s going in the specific area you’re praying about for them. There may be something new or different, and if so, make a note of it and start praying about that.

You will be amazed to see God answer your prayers for your brothers! I can’t count all the specific answers and provisions God has given for things I’ve prayed for my brothers over the past year. It’s so awesome to see Him working in their lives, and my faith has been built incredibly through praying very specifically for things in their lives and seeing God answer and provide!

2. Write them notes.

This one is so fun! You can use Scripture verses, or point out things in their character, or just tell them how glad you are to have them for a brother! I often end my notes with something like, “I’m so blessed to be your little sis!”, “You’re such an incredible man!”, or “I’m so proud of you, bro!”.

3. Learn their love languages.

I wrote a guest post here on this topic. Learning about love languages and applying that knowledge has revolutionized my relationships with my brothers. I’m still working on consciously speaking their love languages on a regular basis, but it’s definitely a practical way to make them feel loved.

4. Take interest in their lives and the things they like.

Your brothers will often feel cared about to the extent that they can tell you truly care about them. If you are thinking of something else entirely and giving an absentminded “hmm” as they tell you something, they will likely notice. If you are always too busy to talk or do stuff together, they won’t want to keep “bothering” you. Girls, our brothers are smart, and they know if we truly care to hear their 10 minute recount of the football game they just watched, or if we wish they would just go fly a kite already!

To my shame, I have been guilty of brushing off my brothers and not taking interest in them far too many times, but it is something I am working on. I want them to know that I ALWAYS want to hear about whatever they want to tell me. I want to be the kind of sister that they know is available to do things with them if at all possible. This includes when it is an inconvenient time, or when the activity is not my favorite.

5. Treat them like men.

My post on “Nurturing Your Brothers’ Manhood” goes in-depth into this topic. I am passionate about girls treating brothers like men! You have more power than you realize over your brothers. What are you doing about it?

Maybe the Lord has convicted your heart about an area you need to work on in your brother/sister relationships. I am cheering you on as you strive to be the sweetest, kindest, sister your brothers could every hope for!

much love,

Allison

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Obeying the Voice of God

“….and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because that Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, and My commandments, My statues, and My laws.” (Gen. 26:24-25)

  1. In order to OBEY God’s voice, Abraham had to be in the habit of LISTENING to God’s voice. He didn’t just one day wake up and think, “I want to hear from God today”. He had developed a lifelong habit of listening for the voice of God.

We don’t all of a sudden hear God’s voice when we have never been in the habit of listening for it before.

  1.  In order to HEAR God’s voice, Abraham had to KNOW God’s voice. This is really incredible! Abraham had learned to discern the voice of God from the conflicting voices of culture and his own heart.

We can’t discern God’s voice from other voices if we have not learned to know His voice.

Just like a child in a room of hundreds of voices, with their eyes shut, would know their father’s voice, so it is with us. As we get to know our Heavenly father better, and listen to Him on a daily basis, we come to hear His voice clearly. 

May we, His redeemed children, be constantly craving to hear, know, listen to, and obey the voice of God!

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The True Test of Your Character

Since my target audience on this blog is young women, and I know many of you are sisters-as I am one- I have been thinking recently of different ideas for becoming better, kinder, happier sisters.

Our siblings see and know our true character better than anyone else. 

It’s easy to put on a “sweet front” for outside friends, coworkers, or a boyfriend, but our siblings are the ones who know the person we really are.

If you are interested in finding out who you really are, ask the people who see you at your worst.

For a “character test” to gauge where you are in some crucial areas of your character, I encourage you to do the following:

With blank paper and pen, jot down some character qualities you are wondering how you rate in. It could be areas you know you stink in, or some you think you’re doing pretty well in. Whatever the case, write down 4-6 (or all:) of these. An example would be some of the following:

  1. Kindness 
  2. Patience 
  3. Flexibility 
  4. Sweet words
  5. Selflessness 
  6. Love
  7. Happiness 
  8. Grace
  9. Smiling 
  10. Being calm when things go wrong
  11. Respecting parents 
  12. Diligence 
  13. Optimism/being positive 
  14. Speaking well of others

Write your qualities of choice on a small piece of paper, and make one such paper for each of your siblings that are old enough to write and understand (my 9 year old sister would definitely get this). If you want, you can even print them out with explanations underneath for the younger siblings that might not be sure what something like “diligence” means.

Explain to your siblings (together or individually) that you want to be a better sister, and that they can help you do this by telling you the areas you need to get better in. Then give them each a paper and ask them to rate you, on a scale of 1-10 (1 being you do an awful job in said are, and 10 being you do terrific at consistently being ___), for each of the character qualities. (I suggest keeping the papers anonymous so that no one will feel bad for giving you a bad rating!)

Ask them to return the papers to a certain spot when they’re finished (like your room). 

This is going to take some humility, girls! But I promise it will be worth it! And remember, the Lord promises to reward those who humble themselves.

I am planning to do this, too, and will be doing a post next month in follow up. I am hoping lots of you will join me and that together, we will humble ourselves, realize our weaknesses, and ask Jesus to help us be more like Him.

I love you girls!

-Allison

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Making Time for People When You Don’t Have Time

Just popping in this evening with a few thoughts on relationships and people in the midst of life that can be so full. (By the way, the picture is dinner with some of my sweet Mexico friends during the time I was living there. I felt like it went with what I’m talking about here, and I miss them, so that’s why!)

Do you ever feel like you just don’t have time for something? One concept has been revolutionizing my world this week:

Sometimes we simply need to do the very things we have the least time for.

Like going swimming with my little siblings today. I didn’t “feel” like I had time. But I was able to get off work, and rearrange my schedule to make the other days this week fuller (yay!), and just go do it!

Sometimes it’s gotta be people over whatever else is screaming to be done. I’m not talking about neglecting one’s responsibilities. There are times when I say “no” to people because of responsibilities or commitments and you will have to as well. But as much as possible I want people to be priority in my life.

I want to prioritize the important as well as the urgent.

And it is a balancing act! But I believe it is possible. Is prioritizing hard? Yes! Messy? Often. But it’s part of life, so those of you that are young (like me)……we may as well practice now and learn to do work AND relationships well- to be dependable employees (or business owners) AND the there-for-you kind of friend and sister/brother/whatever!

Cheers to you all! I’m off to get some sleep and get up early for another day of the balancing act! What could be more exciting?

-Allison

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