Positive Sibling Relationships

Raising young siblings shouldn’t just be about dealing with rivalry after it appears.  Instead try these 5 tips for fostering healthy, positive relationships between your young children that can extend to their relationships outside of the home as well.

1-    Honor Children’s Uniqueness– Children want to be recognized as individuals.  By celebrating the things that make them who they are, their individual talents and interests, they feel special and value.  Talk to your children about the special qualities that are recognized by you and by their siblings.

2-    Set Them Up To Cooperate, Instead of Compete– Let children race a song, the clock or you, when cleaning up toys or getting to the bathroom for the bedtime routine.  In this way, you are reinforcing them as a team, rather than pitting one against the other, a technique that may be motivating for a child in the moment, but backfire in the long run.

3-    Sharing Isn’t Mandatory– Make sure each child has enough time and space of their own. Kids need chances to do their own thing, play with their own friends without their sibling, and to have their space and property protected.  Try using “the box technique” to give children defined spaces for storing their treasured items.

4-    Teach Children How To Successfully Navigate Relationships– These skills can help children in conflict and in day-to-day interactions with other.  Label, express, problem-solve.  Help children label what is happening, express their feelings about it, take turns listening and speaking, and think about coming up with solutions that take into account each person’s point of view.  Praise children when they are getting along and working together.

5-    Be The Teacher– Model positive interactions, kindness, respect, compassion, and consideration.  Consider carefully the way you interact with spouses, caregivers, your siblings, their teachers, etc.  Children learn from you first.

Bonus- Plan Family Activities That Are Fun For Everyone– If your children have wonderful, connecting experiences together, it will be easier for them to work through the challenging times.  People, in general, are far more willing to compromise with someone with whom they have positive history.

By focusing on creating positive relationships before, rather than putting out fire and dealing with rivalry after, we are teaching children skills that will last a lifetime.