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!)


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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  1. That is a great way to constructively correct, love the idea! I will definitely put that into practise, thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Thanks Allison and Cassidy! I’m going to try that out! Allison, you’ve been such an encouragement to me. I do have one question with two parts. Do you have to motivate your brother’s to help with household chores? If so how do you go about it? I know that its off topic, but I need advice. Long story short, my grandma had a stroke back in February of this year. About 3 times a week I’m left with household chores. I could use some help at times with small chores around the kitchen (washing/putting away clean dishes, setting the table…etc) ,but I can’t seem to motivate them to help.

    Thanks in advance!
    Your sister-in-Christ,

  3. I first heard this principle in Dale Carnegie’s book Winning Friends and Influencing People. It’s fantastic for any relationship!

  4. This is so true!! I can struggle with giving any helpful criticism at all, and yet I know I should…in love!

I'd love to hear your thoughts!