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Blog - For Parents - Early Childhood Tips & Tricks

11 Tips To Help Your Kids Become Better Siblings

April 6, 2022

It may seem strange that while your children are biologically related and have the same parents, they are so different in character from one another. These differences can lead to sibling rivalry and fighting. Gender, age, and birth order are important factors that will influence how sibling relationships will develop in the course of time.

You also know how important it is to have a friend in your sibling. Your children's happiness is dependent on the bonds between siblings. It is crucial to help your children get along and become better friends.

A sibling can be your playmate when you are a child, but they can also become your support person as you get older.

Brigham Young University (BYU) has published several studies that discuss the impact siblings have on each other. One sibling study found that having a sister prevented adolescent siblings from feeling alone, unloved and guilty, fearful and self-conscious. It didn't matter if the sister was older or younger, or how different the siblings were in age.

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In a 2014 report researchers discovered that sibling relationships can teach boys "altruism and affection" as well as pro-social behavior. This means that brothers who have a sibling are more likely to give, listen better to others, be more sensitive and loving towards others.

That’s why one of the greatest gifts you can give your children as a parent is to help them become close friends. When it comes to the right child-rearing practices, you can find the abundance of efficient strategies in our blog for parents.

Here are 11 tips on how to help your children to build a long-lasting friendship:

1. Create opportunities for cooperation instead of focusing on rivalry

This could be as easy as changing phrases such as "Whoever cleans up their room first wins the movie ...", into "Help each other clean the room, and then we'll all decide which movie we will watch tonight ...."

two little brothers

2. Offer play breaks and personal space

Give your kid breaks so that they won’t get tired of their sibling or take them for granted in case they are spending too much time together.  This tip applies to children of all ages.

3. Do not compare your kids one to another

Comparisons, whether positive or negative, can lead to suspension and conflict that can have long-lasting negative effects. Encourage their differences instead. This will not only make them more adaptable adults but it will also help them learn from one another and celebrate their uniqueness, as well as see other people’s value who think or behave in a different way.

You can do this inside and outside. Tolerance and acceptance of all people's unique qualities and gifts will help to set the tone in your home. Divergent interests don't need to be hated, but instead celebrated and accepted.

4. Make a "kindness counts!" rule at home

Beside grades, you should also be looking at acts of kindness. Ask each child, at dinner or during car rides, to share with you what kind act they did for their sibling. They should know that kindness to one another is just as important as grades or sports in your family.

5. Help your children to solve problems in a clear and efficient manner

Explain to them what you are doing, and why you are giving advice to them in certain ways. This teaches them the skills they need to solve problems on their own when growing older. If you tend to solve their problem asap without explaining your solution, then they will miss a crucial learning opportunity in their life. As well, explain why you want them "to figure it out themselves."

6. Each child should be given 1:1 attention throughout the week.

Sibling rivalry is a common reason siblings fight. In large part this is because they want to get their parent's attention. When you regularly spend time with them, they feel loved and valued. You might only need to spend 10 minutes with them a few days a week. For example, you can play Kids Academy Talented and Gifted app with each of your child up to 15 minutes a day to gain significant academic results! 

It might be worth considering having "parent-child" special dates or rituals. For example, you could go with your oldest child to get ice cream after their soccer match.

family with two kids

7. Show your kids how important your own siblings to you if you have one

Talk about your childhood memories, fights, and the love you share. This will show your kids that you can still love your siblings.

Talk about your relationship with your childhood best friend in family-like terms, even if you don't have a sibling or one you are close to. Talk about your childhood stories, its ups and downs of loving someone so deeply.

8. Help them close the gap between ages

If you have children of different age, create opportunities for them to bond. This works well regardless of their age. You can take your kids to the beach, to the playground, to the pool, or to other activities that are appealing to all ages and interests.

9. Show that respect and kindness are two of the most important values in your family

Although it may seem obvious, many children report that this is often not clear or clearly stated by their parents.

10. Humor can be used to diffuse tension or resolve conflict

This approach is often efficient and models a different way of dealing with situations, rather than every conflict is needed to be discussed.

11. Teach your kids to get rid of grudge

Research on adult sibling relationships has shown that grudges can be held against things that occurred years or even decades ago, that can hamper closeness.

After resolving conflicts, teach your children to forgive, accept and let go of them. Teach them about grace and forgiveness. It is worth making the effort now to keep their relationship intact.

two siblings

Siblings may be more important than you think! As a parent, make sure you nurture your children, teach problem solving to them, and give them the attention and time they need so they don't become resentful against their sibling.

Their sibling relationships have positive, long-lasting benefits that go beyond your family dynamics. They will be able to set them up for success as adults. Happy National Siblings Day!

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