Five Things You Can Do To Encourage Your Kids To Get Along
Siblings are a very important and unique relationship that may have a variety of characteristics including: love, “hate,” fun, laughter, tears, pulling of hair, shoving, kicking, biting, mockery, concern, support, covering up for each other, rivalry, jealousy, forgiveness, hugs, kisses, kicking, punching, social learning, and fighting for the attention of mom and dad. In essence siblings are the first real exposure children have to relationships that in general are not in a parental role of authority.
Because siblings can range from being a few minutes apart, i.e., twins, to 10 years apart, dynamics forms can vary. Whatever the gap in years, siblings are able to instill our learning of social, emotional, mental (problem-solving), and skill towards accountability. Siblings can affect one another in a manner that no other relationship can. Because they see the parts of one another that friends and the outside world do not, siblings often show the worst side of themselves. It is at this time, you may find yourself yelling: Stop! What did I tell you! Get away from your sister! Stop yelling! Shut up! Go to your room! I said stop! I’m gonna smack you silly! Stop hitting your brother! Give me your phone! You’re grounded! Etc.
If you find yourself thinking your kids will never get along, there is hope! The following are five things you can do to encourage your kids to not only get along, but want to get along without your interference.
Notice How You Address Each Child.
How you speak to your children will set the tone on how they may interact with one another. If a sibling notices the other is spoken to by a parent with a kinder tone, is given special attention, or addressed with patience they are not getting, it may gradually create resentment that begins to manifest in verbal and physical altercations and hurtful behaviors. The child that experiences the unfair treatment, will ultimately feel safest (able to get away with it) expressing their anger for the parent, onto the sibling who gets preferential treatment.
Learn Age Appropriate Expectations Based On Development and Capacities.
Are you treating each sibling according to age development and capacity? Do you expect your children to follow rules and understand your directives differently, or you say it one way and each should understand as said? Teaching your children should vary depending on their age range. One way to ensure successful sibling relationships is to encourage roles based on a child's age. When siblings observe that each person receives expectations they are more likely to deliver, for example: The task fits within the capacity of their age range, it assures the child that the family value of respect of all family members incorporates understanding and empathy to a person’s ability to meet parental expectations.
Family Values Should Expand To All Family Members In The Home.
A good rule of thumb is to identify family values you’d like to instill in your home environment. For example: treating each other with respect, family time: i.e., eating dinner as a family, saying grace before bedtime, sharing about one another’s day, bedtime, curfew, academic performance/efforts/attendance. Regular communication with your children not only promotes each child being seen and heard as individuals, but also provides a space for all to share their thoughts, feelings, ideas, likes and dislikes; allowing each person to feel they contribute to the health and well-eing of the family and the values it stands for.
How Do You And Your Spouse Resolve Conflict?
As the parental unit, you and your spouse/partner are the main model for how
conflict is resolved in the home environment. If conflict is resolved via proactive
communication such as: I statements, empathic response, accountability for
your personal actions, taking time outs, managing anger or stress with grounding
tools, avoiding demeaning or criticizing words, your children in response, learn
simply by observation, not only how to manage their own emotional response,
but the language that validates that of their siblings.
Using Praise And Validation Of Each Child’s Value As A Family Member.
One of the greatest tools parents can use is praise and validation of their
children. Using words or phrases like:
- “I love you just because you are you”
- “Your voice is important and has a right to be heard”
- “Thank you for listening”
-“You have been trying very hard to reach that goal”
-“I am very proud of you”
“You are a great brother/sister”
“I’m proud you are my son/daughter”
“What you shared is important”
“I’m going to think about it”
Acknowledgement that despite their young age they are significant, reduces animosity among siblings, increases their sense of unity, promotes individual pride/self-esteem, and encourages each to value individuality while supporting each other's growth and development. Rather than being against one another, like the example of the parental unit, they can learn to not only tolerate each other, but be who they are knowing their siblings have their back.