Are you tired of the constant bickering?
Carson pulled Abbey’s hair again… And now the baby is screaming because the toddler took her toy.
Does this sound like a day in your life? Or maybe it’s just the antics that take place as you’re waiting in the school drop-off line.
If you have siblings, you probably remember every injustice they brought upon you when you were kids. Naturally, you were an angel.
But, knowing you’ve been there doesn’t make it any easier in the moment.
You worry about your kids having good relationships with each other and you might worry as much about your sanity during the constant squabbling.
While there’s nothing you can do to stop the sparring entirely, there are ways you can encourage your kids to play nicely together.
Here are 6 ideas to help siblings get along.
1. Acknowledge your children’s differences
Your children may like to argue in the same way, but they’re probably very different in other ways. Take time to acknowledge their differences so that you can meet their unique needs. One child may respond better to one set of rules while another needs a different structure. Although it can be challenging to personalize things at this level, it’s important to try. Not only will you help your children get along, but you’ll learn to get to know them better.
If one child needs more structure, provide that structure for the day. And if another child needs more free play time, build that into the schedule. Tension mounts when kids are frustrated, so try to keep their day as stress-free as possible.
Also, some kids tend to act out more when they have sugar or processed foods with artificial coloring. In these cases, it’s easier to say no to the treat than to deal with the wrath of sibling rivalry that’s on the horizon.
2. Stop comparing
If you’ve ever started a sentence with, “why can’t you be more like your [sibling]…”, you may be doing more harm than good.
That phrase comes from a place of good intentions, but that kind of comparison only creates resentment. The child being compared may think you like the other child better, and this can make the bickering even worse. And worse than that, it can cause a divide between siblings that isn’t easily repaired.
Instead of comparing, simply praise each child for what they’ve done well. And leave it at that.
3. Encourage them to work it out
When siblings are involved in a battle, it’s usually best not to take sides. Whenever possible, encourage them to work it out on their own. You can offer some guidance for how they can work it out, but try not to be the judge and the jury. Leave it between them.
Honestly, in most cases of sibling rivalry, neither party is truly innocent. If you get involved, you’re betting on hearsay, and that’s never a good place to be.
The obvious exception to the stay-out-of-it rule is if someone is hurt or in danger. You can get involved here to put a quick end to the argument and/or provide help when needed.
4. Set clear rules
Your kids should always know what’s expected of them, but the only way they’ll know is if you tell them. Talk to them about what’s acceptable and what’s not. For example, talking about feelings is acceptable, but hitting and name calling is not. Let them know the consequences of breaking the rules, so there aren’t any surprises later.
5. Make them each feel special
Sometimes, sibling rivalry comes about because of jealousy. Maybe you share a common bond with one child, and so you naturally spend more time together. There’s nothing wrong with that, but try to make sure you’re spending quality one-on-one time with all your children equally. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but this time is essential.
6. Stop it before it starts
You probably already know the things your kids argue about most. So, you can take measures to avoid those situations. If you see them going for a game that always ends in an argument, suggest another activity (and maybe put that game in storage for a while).
You may also have them sit an arm’s length away from each other at dinner or in the car. This way, you can go for a peaceful and safe joy ride with the kids. Do whatever you think will help avoid arguments. You won’t stop them all, but some peace is a win in any mom’s book.
Winters are especially tricky because we’re faced with a lot of indoor playtime – and we all get a bit of cabin fever. If you notice this happening, try to mix things up by changing your routine. You can invite friends over for playdates or go on family field trips to indoor aquariums, the library or the children’s museum.
Trevor McDonald is a freelance content writer who has a passion for writing. He’s written a variety of education, travel, health, and lifestyle articles for many different companies. In his free time, you can find him running with his dog, playing with his son, playing his guitar, or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.
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