Even as adults, siblings can often clash. But do your kids get along with each other? Some siblings may inevitably clash due to personality differences or even age gaps. As a parent, helping your kids get along can mean they grow into more adjusted adults and have deeper family bonds. Here’s how to help siblings get along with each other.
Prioritize Time With Each Child
Whether you are 5 months pregnant or have a five-year-old, older siblings may get jealous of their younger counterparts. It’s understandable that as a parent, you may need to spend more time on your younger children, especially as they grow and learn new social skills. However, prioritize your time with each child to avoid sibling rivalry. Set out special time slots for older kids where you can spend it one-on-one with them. This can help iron out feelings of envy or jealousy and help your kids get on better.
Encourage Siblings To Talk To Each Other
When your kids fight, it can be natural to insert yourself in the middle. But encouraging your kids to talk to each other can help them become more resilient. If one child pinches another, encourage them to stand up for themself with your support. Constantly defending one child can initiate feelings of jealousy in the other sibling, making the whole fighting process a vicious cycle.
Never Compare Your Kids
It’s natural to compare your kids; Ellie likes vegetables, but Charlie hates them. Charlie loves swimming, and Ellie prefers to play video games. However, don’t ever verbally compare your children as a motivating action for your kids. If you tell your child their sibling does it better, they’ll assume you love the other child more. If your other child hears the praise, they’ll also assume they always have to be good to be loved and identify praise as arriving when their sibling does something bad.
Help Everyone In Your Home To Be Kind
The best way to help your kids grow into great adults is to teach them essential social skills like kindness and appreciation. Encourage your kids to say things they appreciate about their siblings or note down examples of kindness shared between them over the week. Praise them once a week for their good behavior to help them see kindness in each other.
Reduce Parental Involvement In Sharing
Setting guidelines for sharing is important for all kids’ development, but forcing it between siblings can lead to rivalries. Set boundaries like each child can play with the toy for the next hour before their sibling gets a turn, but up until that time, they can play with it as much as they want. That means if they want to share with their sibling before that, they can. Setting boundaries helps to teach the principles of sharing without kids associating it with parental authority.
Give Them Their Own Space
Giving kids their own space is essential in their personal development and giving them downtime. If your kids share a room, give older kids higher cupboards or areas away from younger siblings, or physically draw a line between each half of the room. As much as you can, help them develop hobbies and interests they can pursue in their own time, like painting or football. If kids have their own time to develop away from siblings, it can help reduce feelings of resentment between them.
Define House Rules
Setting clear family rules can help siblings manage their relationships. Have kids involved in the rule-defining process so they are more invested in following them. Simple rules like ‘Speak nicely to each other.’ can help teach essential social interactions. This can also help regulate playtime without the need for adult intervention, as they can abide by the house rules when playing together.
Siblings that get on really well with each other see psychological benefits into adulthood. The American Psychological Association states positive sibling relationships can relieve loneliness and depression. Reward teamwork between siblings through positive reinforcement and a physical incentive like money or activity time, and have your kids decide how they spend or use their prizes.
Spend Quality Family Time Together
Spend quality time with both kids as a family. This might be going out for a family day trip or setting up a new family tradition at home, like a particular meal on a Friday or going to the cinema on Sunday. You could have a weekly activity that you vary once a week, like board games, physical games or movie night. Spending quality time together as a family can help siblings spend positive time together and generate some positive family memories.
Be Flexible With Age Gaps
Parenting with age gaps might be challenging; your teenager won’t want to go to a kids’ play park, while your toddler doesn’t need a lift to soccer practice. Be flexible with your activities as much as possible; consider going on a family vacation or going on a day trip to the beach. Go for activities that everyone can enjoy. It’s also natural that older kids will need some space from your younger ones; give them space and avoid ‘forcing’ them to spend time with each other.
Remember, It’s Not Perfect
Anyone with a sibling remembers that growing up with them could sometimes be frustrating. Even siblings that get on tremendously well fall out from time to time. As a parent, remember that siblings aren’t always going to have the perfect relationship. How they adjust to each other’s personalities will often be the first step towards successfully navigating relationships as adults.
Helping your kids get along is a big part of fostering strong family bonds and setting up your kids to be well-adjusted adults. Encouraging quality time with each child and their own space is a big part of preventing issues like envy or jealousy. Remember to avoid comparing each child and encourage teamwork between them. Minimizing adult intervention in minor squabbles can help kids stand up for themselves. Remember, sibling relationships will never be perfect, but helping them get along can help deepen family bonds and future relationships.
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