If you are a mom of more than 1 child, you might be wondering how to teach siblings to be best friends, because when kids get along, the whole home environment is just…happier.
Hi, I’m Elizabeth and a mom of 3. I am also the oldest child of 4 and I have learned a lot of about sibling relationships over the years from different perspectives. While our house still does have obvious sibling conflicts over video games and toys, I have managed to create a wonderful relationship between the kids and they are the best of friends.
Siblings that get along are not just advantageous in the long run, but they are also extremely practical right now. I often claim that two ( or more) is easier than one, and I believe this is true most of the time these days. They amuse and engage one another, and if I’m lucky, they do so happily.
Here are some suggestions for encouraging sibling friendships when kids are small.
If you are dealing with sibling rivalry please check out Genius Ways To Minimize Sibling Rivalry At Home.
How To Teach Siblings To Be Best Friends
Make Sure They Spend Time Together
Spending time with one’s siblings is the best approach for them to become close friends. Friendships are more likely to form as time passes. I can’t deny that homeschooling has aided in the development of my boys’ tight bonds. They don’t have many options because they are always together! Of course, you don’t have to home school your children to be mindful about their time together; there are many other ways we may encourage our children to spend time together. The American Behavioral Scientist talks about Siblings as Friends in Later Life and summarizes these points here:
Scheduled Activities: Parents frequently schedule their children’s activities, “playdates,” or screen time to keep them from having to deal with one other at home. It may appear like keeping children active all of the time is the correct thing to do, but it can also be considered lazy parenting. Allow your children to hang out together and they will ultimately come up with activities to do, frequently with the use of their imagination and basic materials. Boredom isn’t going to kill them, either; when kids are bored together, they’re more inclined to get creative. Allow some breathing room in your children’s schedules and watch what occurs.
Vacations and holidays: Family trips and holidays provide some of the best opportunities for family bonding! Some families allow their children to bring a friend on vacations or travel with other families. This is acceptable at times. However, if all they have is one another, children are much more likely to bond.
Shared Bedrooms: I enjoy having my boys share a room for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, they should learn to share space and get along. Second, kids don’t actually “need” their own space. (Having their own bed is a luxury in most parts on the planet.) Sharing a room prepares them for dorm life, apartment life, and, eventually, marriage.
Finally, as they get older, sharing a room is a terrific way to hold each other accountable. If one of my teenagers attempts to stay up late on the internet, his sibling will undoubtedly confront him. When a child has a roommate, he is much less likely to get into trouble. With that stated, I understand how important it is for a child to have his own place.
See also: Preventing Sibling Rivalry In Young Families.
Encourage Kids To Support Each Other
It’s difficult for parents, let alone siblings, to keep up with their children’s numerous interests. However, when children are aware of and active in one another’s hobbies, connections are bound to blossom. When possible, encourage kids to join in on each other’s activities. It will never be completely fair or balanced, but it is worthwhile to attempt.
Even if the entire family is unable to attend activities, it is beneficial to ensure that talks are carefully focused on each child’s interests. Parents can direct talks at dinner or in the car so that each child gets a turn in the spotlight.
See also: Explaining Tattling Vs. Telling To Kids
Treat Kids Fairly
Children begin to compare their own relationships with their parents to those of their siblings at a young age. What matters is that our children believe our unequal treatment is FAIR, not that we treat them all the same. It doesn’t matter whether we think the methods we treat our children differently are fair; what counts is what our children think about it and whether they agree with one other.
Sibling relationships are more beneficial when children perceive their parents treat them equitably in comparison to their siblings—for example when parents exhibit equivalent degrees of affection, praise, and discipline.
In this case, pay special attention to warmth: When children report that their parent’s attention is less warm than the warmth shown to their sibling, it can have a significant impact on their happiness as well as their relationship with their brother or sister. Not only do they exhibit greater depressive symptoms, but their relationships with their siblings become strained.
Find Common Interests
Though we encourage our boys to pursue their own hobbies, it is really beneficial to have at least a handful of activities that everyone in the family likes. Our boys have a large variety of interests, but surfing and music are two of their favorites.
They may go in ten different directions in a single day, but knowing that there are a few things they enjoy doing together will keep them together. Every family may find a game, activity, art form, or sport that everyone in the family can enjoy. Put some work into identifying a few similar hobbies, and your children will likely use them as “connection points” for years to come.
Allow Them To Sort Out Their Problems
Kids are destined to get into fights, whether they’re just having a good time or really getting into it.
They are going to disagree. They’ll squabble and squabble some more. We must not allow things to spiral out of control, but we must give them time to work things out. This can be difficult for those of us who want to be in charge of everything and make sure everyone gets along, but most children will learn and grow if they are given the opportunity to figure things out.
Role Play Solutions To Arguments
tools-icon-fridge.gif Siblings will inevitably have disputes to resolve, and research suggests that when children are actively taught conflict resolution strategies, the quality of their sibling relationships improves.
The initial goal is to teach them how to take the all-important first step in conflict resolution: taking a huge, deep breath instead of reacting immediately to a slight.
Finally, we aim to teach children how to respond calmly in emotionally charged situations, communicating their particular needs and points of view to their siblings. This is best taught and performed in a neutral role-playing environment rather than during a battle. See also: Putting An End To Kids Fighting Over Toys.
Teach Them About Emotions Through Emotion Coaching
Teaching children how to recognize, monitor, analyze, and alter their emotional reactions to their siblings can have a significant impact on the quality of their sibling relationships. I’ve written earlier about how to teach this to kids; the purpose here is to educate kids on how to de-escalate difficult situations.
As a result, when their brother presses their buttons (in ways that only siblings can), their negative reaction won’t be as strong. Siblings who receive emotional coaching become better communicators, boosting their chances of having a more positive play experience.
How To Teach Siblings To Be Best Friends Bottom Line
It’s important to remember that all friendships take time to build. Be patient if your children are little and fighting like cats and dogs. It’s conceivable that they’ll outgrow it. Discuss the future with them, emphasizing the importance of their growing up to love each other; show them examples of other loving families. After that, give them some time.