Positive sibling relationships are crucial in the family for peaceful co-existence among family members. Sibling relationships are full of bittersweet occurrences with their highs and lows but what matters, in the end, is that your children love and respect each other.
It’s normal for parents to feel overwhelmed by family disputes when we find ourselves resolving the latest ‘he said this’ and ‘she said that’ debate. How did this argument start in the first place and why did it end in tears?
While sibling conflict feels exhausting at times, it turns out to be some sort of help for the kids in the long run. When kids work through uncomfortable feelings and difficult problems with their siblings, it helps them learn how to manage their emotions and conflict in the outside world.
There are many benefits of positive sibling relationships, including support, friendship, and connection. Research shows that positive sibling relationships can increase sympathy, which can foster other prosocial behaviours like helping and sharing. In fostering sibling relationships, parents teach young children to show empathy and compassion for others.
Making sure the kids are getting along is probably one of the biggest challenges you will have to face as parents. At times it might feel like breaking up fights is all you do. But if you put in the time and invest in your children’s relationships, it will most definitely pay off.
Parents can play a key role in nurturing positive sibling relationships and reducing sibling rivalry and conflict. By encouraging activities that foster teamwork, setting your kids up to have fun together, and providing them with tools to work out conflicts constructively and respectfully, parents can help their kids to develop positive sibling relationships that will carry them through the rest of their lives.
As parents, if you react with anger, annoyance or even a bit of impatience, you risk making your older child feel like you have taken sides against him or her. Even though these actions are sparked by impulsive intense understandable feelings.
Janet Lansbury once said, “Our responses do matter a lot. The choices we make when dealing with situations of conflict between siblings can calm fears, build confidence, and help to ease sibling rivalry. Alternatively, they can fuel and intensify it.”
Building positive sibling relationships is also a good means To Set Healthy Boundaries In Families
6 Ways To Encourage Positive Sibling Relationships
1. Create Sibling Special Time
Siblings do not always want to spend time with each other by nature. The parent has to instil this connection and set the pace. Sibling special time is a great way to ensure that your kids have the time and space they need to build a strong bond.
The parents should set aside a weeknight just for their children. Make it something special and no parents are allowed. (Or if you’re worried, parents can sit within earshot) Start a fun tradition like a kids-only movie night, sibling scavenger hunt, or a play that they write and perform for the rest of the family.
You can also do a little bit of what the mental health field calls psychoeducation. Through the use of bibliotherapy (therapy via books), you can teach your kids about sibling conflict and how to get along with their sisters or brothers. There are some truly excellent children’s books out there that do a great job of dealing with sibling relationships and sibling rivalry.
Promoting reading in your family is a great way to teach your kids about life and relationships. Delightful stories can help foster sibling relationships in your home. You can do that to teach other skills as well. There are children’s books for every kind of life lesson.
2. Set Healthy Boundaries
Make it clear from an early age what the physical, social, and emotional boundaries are between your children. When it comes to teasing and negative interactions, intervene immediately the very first time they take it too far. That way, kids know where you draw the line.
Everyone deserves safe, personal space both physically and emotionally. Use separation when it’s clear that the kids are no longer in control of their actions. Offer up actual physical spaces for each child, and designate section-off space that is their special domain.
3. Connect With Each Child Individually
Kids who feel secure in their relationships with their parents won’t feel the need to compete with their siblings to get their parent’s attention and affection, they feel valued and important.
Designate regular, special time to spend with each of your children individually. When you give each child some special time set aside for them, it creates more space for healthy interaction between siblings. They don’t have as much need for rivalry and competition when they get their fill of your attention. You might be surprised how well your kids respect each other’s one-on-one parent time, even when it’s not their turn.
To connect with each of your kids, you can often go on dates with each of them.
4. Teach The Importance Of Respect
Listening is one way to show respect for each other, and respect is essential when it comes to building good sibling relationships, whether it’s between friends, partners, or siblings. Remind kids that they should treat others how they want to be treated, with kindness and concern for their feelings.
Teach your children that they may not always see eye to eye on things, but they must not call each other names, let arguments affect their positive interactions, and most of all, engage in physical fighting.
Respect can include talking to each other using a nice or at least not unpleasant tone of voice, even when disagreeing, not putting down a sibling’s opinions, and being mindful of someone else’s space and belongings (not going into a sibling’s room without permission or touching their things, for instance).
People who love each other can disagree sometimes that’s just a fact about life. But it’s how we handle those disagreements that matter.
You might be interested in 5 Amazing Tips To Strengthen Your Family Bonds
5. Deal With The Fairness Issue
Issues around fairness arise in all families where there is more than one child. Children don’t want to share parental time and attention with someone else. When they complain about fairness they often get an emotional response from a parent and this in itself increases the amount of attention they get. This tends to happen a lot in families of disabled children as the siblings usually do get or feel they get less parental attention. Responding well to siblings’ complaints about fairness helps improve siblings’ relationships with each other.
6. Do Not Compare Your Kids
First and foremost, when dealing with your children, avoid the use of phrases like, “Why can’t you listen as well as your brother does?” “Your sister doesn’t talk back to me” or “Your sister cooks better than you do”. Comparing your children to each other is a sure way to stroke the fires of sibling rivalry and build resentment.
Positive sibling relationships need to be worked on in all families, whether or not there is a disabled child in the family. Tackling issues of fairness and showing siblings how to interact and play together help to develop positive sibling relationships.
Don’t be disappointed when your children argue, use it to help them. Set the bar high for their relationship and talk positively about it. Make the sharing rules clear and fair. Help them develop empathy for one another. Watching your children behave positively towards one another is worth any effort you put in.
Other articles you might be interested in Checklist for Opening a Restaurant and Staying Profitable