I love it when people say, “We’re so close. We act just like sisters!” You can take this phrase to mean a few different things.
When I was growing up my sister and I acted like the Disney version of “sisters” about half the time. Our close moments were super cute. We would dress in matching outfits and play on the swing set for hours.
Then there was the other half of the time. Once she yelled at me for simply entering her room. As the younger sister I’m pretty sure that I followed her around everywhere, usually for no reason at all. But still, she was mean!
If your small beings get along simply by being in the same room, be grateful. Be incredibly grateful for those moments, because interactions can get intense between siblings.
But it’s really hard for parents to help their small beings navigate sibling interactions as emotions are running high.
These strategies will help you navigate future sibling disputes:
- Be proactive. Give them some structure about what to do before the fighting starts. If you know your small ones are bored, please don’t cross your fingers and hope it passes. You know that it won’t. The fighting will start if you don’t step in with some ideas for independent or group activities.
- Designate play times. Define times when they must play together and times when they must play apart. When you let small or medium beings decide, it leads to complications because one sibling might want to play alone when the other wants to play together. They will be used to listening to you if you create these designated play times when they are getting along.
- Check in on them. Even when things are going well make sure to pop your head into the room. If you avoid them when they are getting along that might send an unintended message. They might feel the best way to get your attention is to start trouble so you will come to the room.
- Play. It's easy in the busy days that we all have to forget to spend time playing with your kids. Make it a priority. Get down on the floor and play with all of your kids together. Modeling positive behavior—turn taking, sharing, patience, being a good sport—is a great way to teach your children these skills.
- Don’t take sides. When you don’t actually see the fight do not let your small beings get the impression that you are siding with any one of them. (Click to Tweet) You will be tempted to give them your opinion, since you have an inkling of what might have happened, but if you did not see it you don't know for sure. When you pick sides you're sending a message to one of your kids that you expect them to misbehave. As I wrote in a recent blog, your kids act on your expectations; your kids will simply misbehave more because you expect them to do so. Instead, encourage them to work out the argument themselves or move on to something else.
Insight Into Action!
Parents: What is one way you can encourage sibling harmony in your home?
Teachers: How do you see sibling or friendship issues come up in your class?
Feedback? Thoughts? Comments? Email me at: Info@BehaviorAndBeyond.net
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