Ways to Build Awesome Sibling Relationships
When I talk about reading parenting books and mommy blogs and web sites, my mom always smiles and says, "We just had Dr. Spock." No, not the pointy-eared dude from Star Trek, but the guy who was probably the first parenting how-to guru.
Nowadays, every one gives advice...and I've mentioned quite a few here and love the feedback that you gals chime in below day after day. There is SO much out there about sibling rivalry. From a list of 20 ways to conquer it on Ask Dr. Sears to bits on Parenting and Babble, some may work for you, while others may not...like everything with parenting, it is a bit of observation, a bit of trial-and-error, and a lot of trusting your gut. Here are a few ideas to start with to help your kids build awesome relationships with each other.
-- Get that "group mentality" going. Pick activities where your kids have to work together, whether one of their weekly chores is folding the sheets (a two-person job) or raking the leaves (again, one person has to hold the bag while the other rakes) or you plan a scavenger hunt or other type of game where they are a team. This reinforces their ability to work together, each of them can see the other's strengths and so on. If they play against the grown-ups, all the better to foster a fun working relationship.
-- Set up "good roles" for them to play with each other. Is your younger son a master of the knock-knock joke? Does your oldest daughter relish the role of being in charge? Does your middle son love teaching his little sister how to do things? Tap into these natural instincts and encourage them because it is hard to fight with the one who makes you feel better when you have a skinned knee or who you want to teach you how to yo-yo.
-- Set up House Rules and enforce them. Have rules (like no hitting, no saying shut up, no teasing, and so on) posted clearly in the kitchen or the hallways by their bedrooms. Also include positives (be kind, say I love you, remember to forgive) as well as ramifications (warnings, time outs, and the like). When little spats start, and you hear someone saying "Shut Up," remind that child about the house rules. This can squelch any potential fights from escalating.
-- Teach them that sometimes things won't be fair. This is a biggie. Kids will keep track of who got what and when. Sometimes, one child will need something more than the other, for whatever reason. Take bedtime. When your younger child asks, "Why does Parker get to stay up later?" remind her she needs more sleep since she is growing and her body has different needs. Try not to make it about younger and older, but enphasize different needs for different people.
-- Teach them empathy. In a calm moment after a spat, talk about and repeat to your son what he said to his little sister and ask him how he thinks that may have made her feel. Illustrating how words make others feel, having them learn that "Golden Rule Mantra" can work wonders - not only in your home, but when they are out in the world.
What is your best tip on building sibling relationships? Share your stories!