Sibling relationships can be some of the strongest social bonds people have in their lives. Though some siblings get along well, sometimes sibling rivalries can be intense. As your children become teens and eventually adults, sometimes conflicts can escalate.
There is no way to prevent 100 percent of conflicts among siblings, but there are ways to support and foster these relationships as early as possible. Here, we’ll discuss ways to help your children learn to navigate these relationships.
Teaching children the concept of teamwork early on will give them a skill that they will be able to use throughout their lives. By creating an environment that values teamwork, you can help siblings get used to working with, not against, each other.
When your kids play together, depending on the age gap, there will be times when they will be frustrated with each other. As a parent or caregiver, you can intervene and sit them down to hear each other out.
Stepping in when things get out of hand will teach kids that there is always a way to resolve a dispute that is better than yelling or hitting. It is important to know when to step in, however. If your children are playing without any conflict or excessive aggression, there is no need to interfere.
Providing activities that your children can do together is yet another way to cultivate an environment that emphasizes teamwork. Getting your kids to help each other on projects helps them build a better working and personal relationship. Even children who are competitive often enjoy working together on projects. It will also provide more structure to their daily lives.
Recognize Each Child’s Uniqueness
It’s no secret that siblings can have personality differences that make relationships with others challenging. Understanding each child’s unique traits is important for parents who want their children to live more harmoniously.
Sibling rivalry is sometimes the result of one child feeling as if a parent has a favorite child. Perceived favoritism can lead to feelings of inadequacy and children may think that their parents want them to be more like their sibling.
It is important for parents to teach their children to embrace their own differences as well as those of their siblings. Make time for both parents to spend time with the children one-on-one to get a better understanding of their personality and build a stronger bond.
Don’t Let Arguments Get Out of Hand
Arguing among siblings is inevitable, whether the argument is over toys when they’re young or borrowing clothes when they’re older. Being there to diffuse arguments when necessary will teach kids to pick their battles wisely, handle conflict effectively, and channel their frustration into a constructive conversation.
Teaching young kids how to reflect on their own behavior and demonstrate accountability encourages them to engage in kinder behaviors. It also teaches them how to genuinely apologize to their siblings when they are wrong. Parents should encourage kids to apologize sincerely and show affection after a disagreement. This teaches them that siblings can still love each other even if they have a minor altercation.
Teach Respect for Privacy
As your children get older, they will naturally start to want more time to themselves. Young children, particularly, have a tendency to frequently interrupt their older siblings. In situations like these, you will have to teach your kids to respect the privacy of others. If your older child wants alone time to work on homework or to write in a journal, the younger child needs to learn to respect that decision.
In households with children of varying ages, the issue of separate rooms will likely come up at some point. Allowing kids to have their own rooms will further reinforce the concept of privacy and will also help foster autonomy as they mature.
If you decide to separate siblings, let them help decorate their new spaces. Encouraging your children’s input will make them feel more comfortable with having their own spaces. This means they will be less likely to invade the space of another.
Sometimes it is not always possible for children to have separate rooms, but there are other ways to help kids learn how to respect their siblings’ autonomy and individuality. If your children don’t have their own rooms just yet, allow them to decorate their beds or other personal spaces.
Make it clear that even if they have to share a space, privacy is still important. Learning how to co-habituate will help children throughout their lives, especially during young adulthood, when they may be sharing a dorm room or living with roommates in an apartment.
Positive, Not Perfect, Sibling Relationships
There is no foolproof way to avoid all sibling conflicts. Fortunately, parents can always demonstrate how to resolve issues respectfully. That way, kids will build strong sibling relationships. Learning how to work through issues with siblings gives kids a template for resolving conflict in later friendships and relationships.
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