Siblings Can Get Along

Siblings seem to bring out the best and the worst in one another- Anonymous’

One of the primary goals as a parent of more than one child is raising kids who get along with one another. Your kids may all love doing things like craft, singing, playing swimming etc, but they each have their own, distinct personality. Distinct personalities mean there may be personality clashes, and those clashes can lead to sibling rivalry! Seeing kids fight is heartbreaking for any parent. Here are some parenting secrets that make all the difference in raising siblings who get along.

Schedule family downtime

Spend time together as a family. It doesn’t matter what you do; it’s the time together that is important. It’s great to do activities that allow space for talking and laughing. Activities where you are all engaged in the same activity and have many opportunities to interact are effective. Going on walks, drawing, crafting, playing modified versions of chess and monopoly, and enjoying music together are favourites in most homes.

Teach and model respect

Children need to understand that they need to respect each other’s emotions. This is true even for a parent when dealing with your children and their emotions. The children watch and observe how you react and model your behavior towards the sibling.

Moderate disagreements only where absolutely necessary

Parents learn that kids usually find solutions that are at least as fair as the ones they would come up with. This problem-solving process teaches them lessons in compromise and team work along the way. If we want our kids to get along, we need to give them a chance to figure out solutions on their own.

Focus on problem-solving

If you have to moderate a disagreement, focus on core facts and solving the problem. Don’t get distracted by who said or did what first. Be aware of the fact that some children are better than others at expressing opinions and describing the situation. Focus on resolving the issue. Is conflict the only problem, or are they also tired or hungry? Have you as their parent has given them the attention they need?

See children as individuals

Don’t define children by birth order or perceived talents. Give them space to be themselves, and they’ll surprise you over and over again. Try not to categorize children or put them into boxes. This limits growth and prevents parents from getting to know their children, while fostering resentment.

Don’t let children prioritize objects over siblings

Let children know that if they fight over something – be it a toy, movie, or computer game – they will lose the privilege of using that particular object. No object is more important than a human being. Next, try to set up a “win-win” situation so that each child gains something. When they both want the same toy, perhaps there’s a game they could play together instead.

Recognize nice things they do for one another

Positive reinforcement goes a long way! Notice the small kindnesses your children do for one another. You must be an example of kindness if you want your kids to be kind to others.  

Treat each child as a unique individual. You do not have to interact in exactly the same way with every child because each child has a unique temperament and communication style. Families that experience sibling rivalry are not “broken” or “wrong.” Arguments are a natural process and an outgrowth of family life. However, with the right awareness, emotional intelligence, and parenting tools, conflict can become a natural part of family life.