Helping Siblings Become Friends

Posted on May 21, 2019 : Posted in Common Parenting Challenges, Parenting Tips

Sibling relationships can be fraught with struggles. At the same time, for many children, their siblings will become their oldest and dearest friends. As a parent, it is natural for you to desire a close relationship between your children. Still, it can be difficult to discern when to intervene and what exactly you should do. Helping siblings become friends will be a different process in every family. However, here are some general guidelines to help you get started.

Encourage the Ways They Play Well

A great way to support your children is to notice their natural rhythms. For instance, if your children play especially well together when you bring out the building blocks or help set up a tea party, encourage these activities when you have the opportunity. Likewise, if playing a particular game or being unsupervised at a certain time of day frequently ends in tears, make a point to have a plan to be nearby to help in those moments. This includes being creative when children are in conflict over what to do together. If one child wants to play restaurant and the other wants to be outside, why not create a diner on the front porch?

Don’t Disturb Their Peaceful Moments

It can be tempting to comment or interact with children who are engrossed in playtime together. They are just so adorable and serious in their play, and we want to join in! However, if your children are blissfully sharing playtime, work hard to leave them be. It is important as siblings become friends that they develop their own rhythms and patterns of relationships. Too much interference from grown-ups can rob them of that special bond they are busily forming.

Be Ready to Step In

Of course, small children aren’t ready to sort out big conflicts on their own. In fact, if left to their own devices, kids often feel helpless and will lash out with words or hands. For this reason, it is important to check on your playing children regularly to judge the tone and temper of their playtime. If your children do begin to fight, walk them through the conflict calmly, praising kindness and comforting sadness. Sometimes a problem or feeling is just too big to talk through at the moment, and these are the times when mom or dad can save the day with a dance party, tickle fight, or quick walk around the neighborhood. Creating positive memories together helps to smooth over those rough patches that all siblings encounter.

Create Bonding Rituals

When families create rituals of kindness and connection, siblings become friends naturally. For example, bedtime is an excellent opportunity to allow your children to share some extra snuggles and affection. If one of your children can read, suggest that they read a book to their younger sibling. If nothing else, encourage and model affectionate words and gestures.

Turn Competition into Teamwork

Siblings naturally feel competitive, and parents often choose to play into this bent. However, pitting your children against each other, even in friendly competition, can drive a wedge between them. Instead of asking your child who can get ready or clean their room the fastest, why not have them race the clock together? Ask them if they think they can pick up all their toys before a song is finished playing or if they can help each other get ready to leave by the time you make everyone’s lunch. Any time you can place your children on the same side of an issue or event, you help them see themselves as teammates rather than rivals.

Ultimately, the best gift you can give your child is strong family relationships. Additionally, their relationships with one another rely on their individual relationships with you. As you build strong connections with each of your children, you give them the tools they need to forge similar bonds with others. Are you looking for childcare in a place that emphasizes care and connection? If so, please consider Legacy Academy. Call or visit one of our centers today for more information.