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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 (21-30):
by on Apr. 12, 2012 at 4:22 PM

thanks for sharing!

by Member on Apr. 12, 2012 at 4:41 PM

good tips

by Member on Apr. 12, 2012 at 5:37 PM

Great tips!!! Thanks for sharing.

by on Apr. 12, 2012 at 6:55 PM

These are great tips. My siblings and I were never close when we were young, but the older we get it seems the closer we get. We are all about 4yrs a part which made it hard when we were young

by Bronze Member on Apr. 12, 2012 at 8:13 PM

When my older son left for college, the younger realized that he missed his brother.

by Member on Apr. 12, 2012 at 8:40 PM

I only have one child. But my tip would be to have more than one child! =)

by Member on Apr. 13, 2012 at 1:02 AM

thanks for the tips!

by Member on Apr. 13, 2012 at 1:20 AM

This is what I have often said to my kids over the years:  "who are you in charge of?" 

For some reason my kids are always trying to control each other . . . and it helps to remind them that they are in charge of their own behavior and not their siblings.

by on Apr. 13, 2012 at 8:45 AM
One thing I have done with my three kids is find opportunities to reinforce positive interaction. When they were really little, I would keep a close lookout for times "to catch them being good" and offer am extra treat, a small prize, anything I thought would make them see getting along and treating each other nice an advantage to them personally. These would be completely random moments that came with no warning, so they weren't bribes, but since they never knew when they might happen, they often worked hard to be good hoping to increase their chances.
Now that they are 12,9, and 7, it has probably been 2-3 or more years since I did anything for them along those lines, but the positive interaction is so ingrained in them that they do get along a lot better than many siblings we know and I rarely have cause to intervene.
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by on Apr. 13, 2012 at 8:48 AM

Make them share a room, lol :) That teaches sharing of space and getting along better than anything!

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