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How to Nurture Healthy Sibling Relationships

 

Sibling relationships are very important, as they last a lifetime. When children are young, siblings will fight with one another no matter what approach you take, but there are things you can do to minimize the kids' conflicts. Monitoring the fights now will help siblings become closer friends when they get older.

Don't Favor One Child

It's important to remember that the children will believe you love one of them more than the other. One sibling may try to convince the other that he or she is your favorite. Take steps to ensure both, or all children, know they are loved and valued equally, each for their own unique abilities and strengths. Don't do something for one child that you wouldn't do for all of them.

Don't Play the Children Against Each Other

When you want one child to clean her room, don't motivate her to do so by telling her what a good job another sibling has done. Doing this will only make the sibling who hasn't cleaned her room resent the one who has. This will carry through to other things, as well. Avoid saying things like: "Your brother knew his ABC's before he started Kindergarten. You should learn yours now."

Don't Tolerate Violence

The children will pick on each other, and they may get violent with one another out of anger or emotional outbursts. Let them all know that this kind of behavior toward their brothers/sisters is not acceptable, and that they should treat each other with respect and kindness. Let them know that violence is not tolerated and deliver consequences for such behaviors.

Don't Assume that Things Should Always be Equal

Focus on the specific needs of each child. For example, one child may not want a snack at all, while the other may be hungry enough to eat a larger snack. Giving them the same amount will not help either of them.

Don't Encourage Tattling

Make sure the children don't tattle, or say something to get their sibling in trouble (and get on your good side). Let them know that this behavior isn't the kind you like to see. Make them understand that "telling" is important, though, because you want to be told if one of the children is doing something that is bad or will hurt them. Convey the difference between being a tattler and relaying important information.

Divide Chores Evenly

This will be harder unless you have twins or children who are close in age. Younger children won't be able to do as much as older children, but the older children will resent the younger child for not having to do as much. Rotate the chores as best as possible to ensure that all the children have to do all the chores at some point.

Fighting siblings are a part of parenting, and it is natural to have siblings who fight with one another. Keeping these things in mind will minimze the battles and make for less stressful family time.

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