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Ways to Build Awesome Sibling Relationships

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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 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!


by on Apr. 12, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Replies (11-20):
by on Apr. 12, 2012 at 12:41 PM

These are really good tips.  I don't really have anything to add.

by on Apr. 12, 2012 at 12:42 PM


Quoting sarah824:

The big one around here is letting the kids know that things will NOT always be fair. It is a tough concept for them, but the sooner they realize it the better off they will be. My mom always told us kids "Life's not fair, get used to it." When I was a kid I hated hearing it, but as I got older it definitely rang true and I thanked her for teaching us that.

 My mom said that to us too =)

by on Apr. 12, 2012 at 12:45 PM


Quoting MamaBear2cubs:

Great tips. My kids are awful to eachother lol.

Mine can be at times.  Then at other times they are so sweet and loving to each other.  Like the other night when my 9 year old daughter tried to slam her bedroom door in my son's face.  His foot was in the way and the door ripped off his toenail.  So of course he's crying and carrying on, so she hugged and comforted him.  She KNEW she was in big trouble for that one.  Now she's not allowed to close her bedroom door for any reason.

by on Apr. 12, 2012 at 12:57 PM

This. I only have one child.

Quoting NicholasMama608:

Good tips.  I hope someone with more than one kid can use some of these.

by on Apr. 12, 2012 at 1:32 PM
Great tips!
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
by on Apr. 12, 2012 at 1:50 PM
I make my kids work together on things.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
by on Apr. 12, 2012 at 1:50 PM

Quoting KaylaMillar:

Great tips!
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
by Member on Apr. 12, 2012 at 1:54 PM

All 3 of mine get along pretty good for the most part, and I agree the tips you share are good ones! 

by Bronze Member on Apr. 12, 2012 at 1:55 PM

Just spending time together as a family- I think family dinner and then hanging out for another 15-20 minutes at the table asking them all questions and spending the time listening is a way to keep siblings close.  

by on Apr. 12, 2012 at 3:55 PM

my kids are all over the map in ages :)  9 months to 15.

they get along well for the most part and i also have to let them know what i do for one and not the other is reasonable based on their ages..  while one might think it's not fair to have let's say a FB.. well her older sister didn't get one until she was 14, so that is the rule for my 13 yo.. and that's that.  

i am truly grateful that they all help out one another more than arguing with each other..

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