We have all had situations in which a child comes running to us, pouring reproaches on their sibling, usually through a flood of tears. We hear things like, “She hit me!” or “He took my toy and won’t give it back!” In the end, it is hard to figure out if we know all the details or we have only heard one side of the story. While it might seem impossible for siblings to actually get along, it can be done with a little thought and effort. These few tips will help you to help your kids become best buddies.
1. Be aware of how your kids treat each other when you are not around.
It is rather hard to fix a problem if you don’t know what the problem is. Listen to your children relate to each other to find out where specific difficulties might be in their relationship. It might be a good idea to put a baby monitor in the playroom so that you don’t have to be hovering over them. Simply allow them to be themselves while you observe and assess from another room.
2. Help them have fun together.
You don’t want your children’s only contact with each other to be sibling squabbles. Kids should have a good, happy feeling in connotation with their siblings. Often, bad relating can be avoided if you take action first and help them enjoy each other’s company. Find fun activities that your children can do together. For example, teaching siblings to be dance partners is a fun way to get them working together (and it’s just plain adorable, too).
3. Teach the trading principle.
A lot of sibling drama occurs when one kid grabs a toy from another. You hear the wail, “But that was mine!” and you think, “Here we go again.” This situation can be avoided by teaching children how to ask for toys and trade toys. For example, they might say, “I want to play with the truck you have. May I trade you this train for that truck?” This simple principle can help siblings avoid an awful lot of difficulties.
4. Guide them into the habit of loving on each other.
Loving physical contact is a huge impetus in helping siblings truly get along. But it will take some intentionality to help your children learn to love on each other. For a start, make it a habit to give hugs and kisses when one sibling has to leave for any reason. You might say, “Baby sister is going to nap now – give her a kiss goodnight!” or “It’s time for brother to leave for school – hug him goodbye!” As they learn to hug, kiss, and snuggle, their relationship will grow enormously.
5. Require that they make it up when they have done wrong.
It is extremely important that children learn to admit that they have done something wrong. It is also important that children learn how to forgive when they have been wronged. When your children squabble – and they will – set a principle for how they should make up. They will definitely need guidance on your part, but it is totally worth it in the long run! Gently direct your child to apologise: “You were wrong to hit your sister. Can you tell her, ‘I was wrong to hit you. Will you please forgive me?'” Then help the sibling to accept the apology: “He is sorry for hitting you. Can you tell him that you forgive him? Remember that sometimes you want him to forgive you for things too.” Over time, your children will learn how to work it out when they have altercations.
Helping young children bond and get along is definitely a process. It is not going to happen overnight. But by helping your children love each other, you ensure that they each have a friend for life. And that is a good feeling!