Every parent wants to see a strong relationship between siblings. Parents want their children to love and support each other as they grow up. Because, aside from the effect it has on them, it also increases their empathy and willingness to show kindness to others. Although it can be challenging to see that while they are still young, arguing about everything under the sun, there are many everyday learning opportunities to enlighten them to appreciate the beauty of having a sibling while guiding them to strengthen their relationship.
Ways to Foster Relationship Between Siblings
1. Never Compare Your Kids
Sibling rivalry and resentment are usually triggered when a parent, consciously or unconsciously, draws comparisons with their kids.
For instance, it can stem from saying something as simple as, “Your brother finished all his vegetables, you should, too,” or “Why can’t you be more well-behaved like your sister?”
To them, it means they’re bad, or there’s something awfully wrong with them. It doesn’t matter that it’s not what you meant because that’s how their young minds are going to take it anyways. That’s why you always have to be mindful of how you speak with all your children. Acknowledge and accept that they’re different from one another.
2. Devote Equal Time and Attention to Each Child
Sometimes, children may struggle to appreciate the presence of a little brother or sister if they feel like they’re taking you away from them.
For example, after being an only child for four years, your preschooler now has to share your love and affection with a newborn brother or sister who’s probably getting most of it than them during the early stages. No matter how often you explain to them that nothing has changed and that you love them just the same, they will find it difficult to understand if it doesn’t translate to your actions.
So what can you do to foster a strong relationship between siblings? First, be intentional about spending equal time and attention on all your children so their love tank is always filled and there’s less room for jealousy among siblings. Dedicate at least 10 minutes every day to doing an activity with each child. These include:
- Reading them a bedtime story at night.
- Having breakfast together
- Squeezing a quick ice cream date when you pick them up from school
- Colouring a page together while chit-chatting about how their day went
- Baking cookies or concocting the best cold brews you can make at home and making a non-caffeinated version for them, too.
3. Plan Family Day Around Common Interests
One of the reasons experiences are better than material gifts are the learning opportunities they provide. Consider your children’s mutual interests when making weekend or holiday plans. Before booking a session of pottery painting for the whole family, ask yourself first whether it’s something everyone will enjoy. Because it would definitely suck if you did all the tedious planning only to have all three kids throwing tantrums because they don’t like what they’re doing.
Better yet, involve them in the planning and preparation, so they feel invested and inspired to cooperate immediately. Make your children in charge of the itinerary or give them options and let them decide together.
Discourage competition and rivalry. Putting them on the same team when playing family games will help strengthen the relationship between siblings. Make it a point to let it always be team children versus grownups.
4. Provide Opportunities for Them to Bond
With countless shows on YouTube and Netflix and a plethora of games to play on their iPads and other electronic devices, children sometimes forget how nice it is to spend time with their siblings. Encourage them to discover each other’s company with these tips.
Give them a dog with the shared responsibility of feeding and taking on walks. Having a pet can have many well-rounded benefits for children, so it’s definitely worth considering.
Carve out 10 minutes a day where they’re required to share doing anything they want together. Whether it’s helping set the table, playing a game or helping each other with homework is not important, as long as they are doing it together.
Let them collaborate on household chores. For example, they can wash the car, do the laundry, or speed-clean their bedrooms on a timer to make cleaning more fun and exciting for your kids.
5. Teach Them to Take Care of Each Other
Helping them develop care and compassion for one another by giving them a chance will strengthen the relationship between siblings even further.
While it’s natural to ask the eldest sibling to look after the younger ones, you can also tell the younger ones to do the same.
For example, when one of your children gets hurt while playing, instruct the others to tend to the injured. This could involve minor first aid stuff like cleaning cuts and scratches and putting a Band-Aid on them. Letting them do this helps develop their concern for their sibling and gives them a sense of independence that boosts their self-confidence.
6. Let Them Be Each Other’s Cheerleaders
Teach your kids that they are beautiful and special in their own unique ways. Boost their self-esteem and confidence, so it’s not hard for them to see their own strengths and compare themselves to their sibling or other children. Bring them to each other’s events and let them support one another by literally cheering from the sidelines of a spelling bee contest or a football game.
In addition, stop making mistakes and failures as grave offences or something to be embarrassed about. Instead, turn it into a special bonding moment for the siblings.
For example, when a child is sulking because they didn’t get the grades they were hoping for, or they didn’t qualify for the soccer team, go get ice cream or pizza to share with the whole family while you all give the sad party comforting and encouraging words. Make it a family tradition, so your kids will always remember they can rely on each other when things don’t go their way.
7. Be a Good Role Model
Children typically mirror the emotions and behaviors they see from the grownups around them.
With everything you’re dealing with as a parent — career, finances, managing the household, relationship with your partner, and taking care of the kids — it’s natural for you to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and at the edge sometimes. However, if this is the norm you’re children are experiencing in their day-to-day lives, it’s possible that they will treat their siblings how you treat them.
That’s why, to help improve the relationship between siblings, it is best to keep your emotions in check when interacting with your children. If, in a given situation, you are more likely to get upset or lose your temper, ask our partner to step in. If you’re solo-parenting, take a step back for a few minutes to collect yourself and your thoughts first.
In addition, as a role model, you can also take advantage of this moment to teach them by example how to calm themselves down. When upset, use simple breathing exercises. Ask them to do it with you and by taking three breaths in and three breaths out to calm down.
8. Set Ground Rules and Responsibilities
As children grow up, the causes of arguments can also become more complex. From fighting over toys when they were little, it can now be who’s turn to take out the trash, clear out the table, or whatnot.
Minimize conflicts and help foster good relationship between siblings by establishing house rules, schedule for household chores, and the privileges they earn along with the consequences for not getting things done.
Hear out what each child has to say about their specific roles and responsibilities. Often, the elder siblings may think it’s unfair that they have bigger or more tasks to do than the younger ones. Help them understand by letting them know how much you’re grateful for what they’re doing, why the younger siblings can’t do the same, and encourage them to speak out about how they think you can support them in doing their duties.
9. Create a Culture of Love and Kindness at Home
It’s easier for your children to form a strong connection when they live in a loving and
nurturing environment. Here are some tips on how to do it.
- Speak kindly to one another
- Avoid using hurtful language, even as a joke
- Do not use sarcasm or condescending tones when speaking at home
- Discourage playing pranks, especially offensive ones
- Say please and thank you
- Teach them about the golden rule
- Ask the children to do something nice for each other, whether sharing a toy or giving them a hug
10. Shower Them with Positive Reinforcements
Let your children know you notice and appreciate it when they’re treating their siblings right and motivate them to continue with positive reinforcements. Praise them when they’re playing without fighting or finishing a project or chore together. Give them a reward to encourage good behavior whenever possible.
For example, you can say, “Thank you for playing nicely together and sharing the new toy, because of that we’re going to the park or I’m treating you to dinner.”
Got More Tips? We’d Love to Hear Them!
How about you? How do you encourage your children to foster a strong relationship between siblings? What are your tips when it comes to addressing conflicts and rivalry among children, and how do you prevent your kids from thinking you play favourites? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
ABOUT THE GUEST AUTHOR:
Elizabeth Shields is an experienced author of online articles for various blog posts. She is passionate about parenting, home improvement, wellness, and sustainability topics. She is a married mother of two and apart from writing, enjoys spending her time with her family and friends.