Here are a few general tips to benefit sibling relationships:
- Fair is not equal, fair is everyone has their needs met – It’s okay that the discipline for a three-year-old is different than the discipline for a seven-year-old for the same behaviors. They are different children at different stages of development, meeting their needs may happen in very different ways.
- Avoid comparisons – This can be as mild as, “this is our big boy, and this is our baby,” or as direct as, “this is our student, and this is our athlete.” These labels and comparisons can put a lot of pressure on children and define our expectations which can be limiting.
- Beyond three years old think of yourself more as coach than referee in helping them get along – When the youngest involved is under three years old, you are still often a referee. As they get older, avoid solving for them. Rather focus on teaching them new and better skills to problem solve themselves. Focus your efforts on helping them listen to each other, take turns and share, negotiate and problem solve together. This can take a great deal of time and creativity, but in the long run moves them towards being able to solve without you.
- Give them lots of opportunities – Siblings need opportunities to play and work together. This might be shared challenges like cleaning up together to beat the clock, cooking together, having sleep overs or building forts together.
To learn more about each of these ideas and much more about sibling relationships, join my Birth Order and Sibling Rivalry workshop this Sunday April 14 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. For more information and to register, please visit http://www.eventbrite.com/org/283710166?s=1328924.
Can’t make it to the workshop? There is a great parenting book titled Siblings Without Rivalry by Faber and Mazlish.