How parents can help siblings get along while nurturing their individual needs and the sibling bond. 10 positive parenting tips to help siblings get along and use emotion picture cards to gain empathy for others.
(Not) Magic Tips to Help Siblings Get Along
If you have children, you know that maintaining peace in your home can be a challenge.
One minute, our kids are getting along great, and the next they’re throwing legos at each other and screaming like someone just lost an eye.
Massaging the relationship between siblings can take patience (along with ear plugs) when things feel overwhelming when they’re at each other’s throats, but when love is the goal, there are some steps you can take to set siblings up for getting along and to have a positive relationship.
The sibling dynamic is an interesting one and while as parents, we of course want our kids to get along, stick up for one another and find ways to play together nicely, it also requires room for learning how to communicate, share their surroundings and know when it’s time to get some space.
Also, knowing when and how to intervene can make a big difference in your children’s relationships with one another.
Learn all my magic tips to manage sibling rivalry and help siblings get along.
What Causes Sibling Rivalry
Sibling rivalry isn’t too difficult to wrap our heads around.
From a child’s perspective, it’s their way of competing for their parent’s attention and love.
It can show up between kids in the form of name-calling, tattling, bickering to try to get in the last word, hitting and pushing.
What Factors Into How Well Siblings Get Along?
The thing about sibling rivalry is that it’s a natural part of growing up, asserting independence and finding your own voice. The factors that contribute to how well your kids get along with each other are vast including;
- age and spacing (kids closer in age might fight more than kids farther apart in age)
- personality (are they similar enough to class or opposite enough to rarely see eye to eye, strong versus neutral personality type, etc.)
- sex (kids of the same sex might share more of the same interests or adversely, compete with one another to be the top dog when it comes to school, sports, popularity, etc.)
- family size (personality is often contributed to the placement in the family. for example, middle children may feel less secure with their place in the family or older kids can be threatened by the attention of younger kids.)
- family structure (children of divorced or blended families may compete more for their parent’s attention when they see that parent, and also fight more with step siblings who they see as a threat to their biological parent’s attention.)
Help Siblings Get Along – Tips to Try at Home Today:
1. Encourage Team Work.
- Ask your kids to help around the house together
- If you use routine cards, encourage kids to complete a chore or work together to get something done faster. Mark special routine cards as “Teamwork” cards so when they get to that part of the day, they know it’s time to work together.
- Offer a reward for a project that they need to work together to complete (rake and bag all the leaves, shovel the driveway when it snows, cook dinner for the family, plan dessert for the next get together.)
2. Compliment When They Get Along
- Point out the times when you see your kids getting along and working together nicely
- If you see the behavior you’d love to see at home in movies, books, etc. comment on it so everyone takes notes and can carefully see the example you identify for them.
- When you praise positive behavior, kids get an encouraging boost and will work hard to replicate this behavior for more praise. When you give attention to negative behavior, they’ll repeat this kind of negative attention so be sure to give more positive attention to the behavior you want to keep seeing show up.
3. Cook Together
- If your kids are difference ages, assign them each different age-appropriate roles such as gathering ingredients, measuring, mixing, pouring, staring, etc. Everyone has a role and needs to work together for a yummy finished project.
- Cooking together is fun and an easy way to build a cooperative spirit.
4. Teach About Feelings and Body Language
- Kids need to learn first what emotions are, and feel like in order to communicate their own and then recognize emotions, and body language in others.
- Model emotional intelligence by discussing your own feelings so kids can get gain an understanding of feelings
- Emotion picture cards are wonderful for little learners who are developing these skills and are still very much visual learners.
5. Look at Old Photos and Videos
- Remind your kids of just how much fun they can have together by looking at old photos and videos when they were having fun playing together.
- Talk about the times they made you laugh or how much fun they had doing XYZ together.
6. Encourage Playtime Where They Have to Work Together
- Play a board game for fun and laughter it’ll bring
- Suggest an activity that your kids can play together (go swimming, water balloon fight, build a fort, ride bikes, hopscotch, chalk, hide and seek, etc.)
- Here’s a list of 50 screen-free summer activities (grab your free printable too) full of ideas
7. Avoid Comparisons
- Avoid comparing your kids at all costs. When kids feel like their parents rank them no matter if it’s school, behavior, sports, etc., it hurts them and puts a wall up between siblings whether you realize it or not.
- Stuff like Matt is a better reader and Jake is more talented at baseball will only make the rift between siblings larger.
- Kids already compare themselves, so don’t add fuel to the fire!
- Add positive affirmation cards to your home for a boost of confidence
8. Set Boundaries & Enforce Limits
- Kids who are in touch with their feelings and know how to communicate, can also becomes great at problem solving and handling their own issues.
- When kids come to you with a problem, use this opportunity to teach them conflict resolution. When they understand how to find solutions on their own and hash out conflicts through communication, not only do you get a break, but it strengthens the sibling bond.
- There have to be rules to what’s acceptable behavior and what you will not tolerate. When it comes to sibling rivalry, where do you drawn the line? Physical acts such as hitting, biting, and hurting should never be allowed and the consequences should be well known and always enforced immediately.
9. Celebrate Acts of Kindness for One Another
- During the holidays everyone in our family draws a name and spends all week spreading joy with little acts of kindness such as helping them make their bed, giving a compliment, writing a quick note and tucking it into their backpack. While it’s fun to do the weeks leading to the holidays, it’s something that can be done all year long!
- Praise kids for their kindness by keeping track of small acts of kindness with a kindness jar idea from What Do We Do All Day. Kids love to notice you were paying attention and gives them confidence to keep doing small things for others.
10. Plan Special Time With Each of Your Kids Every Day
- Plan at least 10 minutes with each of your kids every day to connect with them.
- It doesn’t have to be an extravagant event. Simply reading a book together or sitting at the table to have a snack together while talking about something they’re interested in, goes a long way to feed their attention bucket so they don’t have to seek it out in the form of sibling bickering to try to one-up their brother or sister.
Need a little extra handling your child’s big emotions? Here’s a FREE Parenting Course to help you both turn things around.
- Handling Toddler Tantrums: Big Emotions & Helping Your Toddler Feel Heard
- Parents: 5 Steps to Teach Kids How to Manage Big Emotions (Free Printable)
- 6 Ways to Help Children Identify & Express Their Emotions
- Help Your Children Understand Emotions and Develop the Emotional Intelligence They Need
- Set the Tone for a Happy Home: Create a Positive Home for your Kids
- Stop Sibling Fighting Using a Positive Approach