Help Between Siblings

Help Between Siblings

It is fine to ask for and expect help between siblings. What you want to avoid is one child feeling like the other is their job or responsibility. There are subtle shifts in language and positive discipline techniques that can be helpful in walking this fine line.
  • Give Choices – So their sibling doesn’t feel like a chore, offer children choices about how they would like to help and what they would like to do. If you need help getting the bath ready, ask if they would like to get the towels or start the water.
  • Talk About Caregiving in Both Directions – Rather than saying, “you are the big brother. It is your job to keep him safe.” Say, “we are a family. In a family we will all work to keep each other safe.”
  • Give Descriptive Praise When They are Helpful – When the hold a siblings hand crossing the parking lot, say, “wow, look at you holding your brother’s hand. You are helping to keep each other safe!” When they help pick other’s pajamas, say, “you got his pajamas ready. That helps everyone getting ready for bed!”
  • Avoid Competition, Encourage Cooperation – Instead of having them race to beat each other getting dressed, challenge them to work together to beat the clock.



Author: Dr. Rene Hackney

With a MA in school psychology and a PhD in developmental psychology, I founded and work as a parent educator at Parenting Playgroups. Somewhere in there I trained in the Developmental Clinic at Children's NMC and in the public schools. I have two beautiful, funny children who make me practice what I preach most everyday.

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