We’ve already established that it is perfectly normal for siblings to swing back and forth between adoring and detesting one another. In fact, sparring and adoring both offer long term benefits and prepare kids for future close relationships.
Irregardless of whether your kids are in an adoring or detesting phase, here are some general tips that cannot be overemphasized when raising siblings:
Never compare. Celebrate their unique qualities. When you are tempted to compare children, stop yourself. Whatever needs to be said to one can be said without mentioning the other. Describe the behavior or experience without comparison to another child.
Strive for unique, not equal. Siblings often want things to be equal, but it’s a losing battle. Focus on the individual needs instead. For example, if your child wants two more strawberries because her sister had two extra, then simply ask, “Oh, are you still hungry?”
Never pigeon hole kids or lock them into roles. Give them freedom to change. Each time we characterize one kid as the shy one or the talkative one or the one who is always afraid of dogs, then we are pigeonholing that child. Children readily absorb these descriptions and they become defining moments for them.
Spend time with each child separately. One-on-one time is critical for staying connected. A different dynamic and level of connection happens between groups when more people are added. The same is true with family dynamics. The same way you may crave alone time with your partner or spouse to reconnect, your kids crave that special connection time with you too.
Hurtful actions need to be stopped. Intervening is necessary at times. Most experts suggest that violent situations must be stopped. Above all else, your children need to feel safe and secure with you. Young children should be helped through conflict resolution because they most likely do not have the skills to successfully manage the conflict themselves. Children 8-10 years or older who have good conflict management skills can be left alone to sort things through with siblings.
Acknowledge feelings. Siblings need to have their feelings about one another acknowledged. Not dismissed. If your child says, “He is so mean!” You can say, “You sound really upset.” Resist the urge to turn this into a teachable moment with, “He really isn’t mean”.
Model healthy anger management. Demonstrate conflict resolution and negotiation skills. Teach your children how to express disappointment, frustration, or sadness in a healthy and productive manner. If there are times when you can help your kids to compromise without violating an important rule or family value, then model this for your children too.
Sibling rivalry/conflicts will occur from time to time, but if you follow the 7 tips, your kids will benefit from these negotiations.
Before you click away to read the other posts or to share this one with a friend, take a moment and share your thoughts. Describe the relationship between your kids.