Sibling Tips for Summer

Summer days can be a great time for siblings to spend real time together and play. These can also be days full of bickering, name calling and short tempers. Here are a few ideas to give them elbow room and hopefully improve their time together.

  • Get them outside – I was talking to a mom just the other morning who said she didn’t remember bickering with her brothers so much growing up and is amazed at how much her kids are already bickering with each other this summer break. Then, she remembered how much time she and her siblings spent outside during breaks riding their bikes and at the neighborhood playground with friends. I know you can’t just send them outside to amuse themselves for eight hours a summer day like my mom did in the 1970s, but you can get them outside more. Everyday plan to ride bikes, hit a playground, scooter, go for a nature walk or just play in the backyard.
  • Time apart – As much as I want my kids to enjoy their time together, a little time apart can go a long way. This means having some stretches of time where they each pick a room of the house to play in separately. In a bigger way, you might plan for them to have individual playdates when the other is out of the house. This can take some doing, but will allow them to focus on play while you avoid having to run interference.
  • A need to protect the older – So often, we excuse our younger child’s behavior and expect the older child to understand. If the younger messes up an older’s puzzle, we might say, “oh, she doesn’t know. She’s just three!” Over time, the older’s frustration may hit a breaking point. The answer is to find somewhere in the house the older can work on projects uninterrupted or store activities mid-build. My older daughter spent a bit of time playing up on the kitchen counter with more detailed toys when her sister was a toddler. It gave her a time she could relax without worrying about defending her space.
  • Shake up the time – Back to spending time together, get creative. Slumber parties complete with sleeping bags and popcorn can be a novel way to spend a summer night together. Having a picnic lunch in the backyard or even in the living room can be a fun change.

Join me for my upcoming evening workshop on Birth Order and Sibling Rivalry. This in depth discussion will provide more ways to build successful play as well as better manage bickering, fighting, aggression and guidelines for parents to dampen rivalry. This will meet on Wednesday, July 11th from 7:00-9:00 p.m.  For more information and to register, please visit

Involve the Kids in Summer Travel

Summer is a great time to travel with the kids. There are lots of ways to slide in education and benefit the child’s skill set without dampening the fun!

  • Plan-Do-Review – If you are headed to the beach next week, start planning with kids now by visiting the area’s websites, searching nearby attractions and making a plan for activities with your child. Planning also includes reading related children’s storybooks or looking at pictures from previous trips. The ‘do’ part is when you are there; check through your planned list, talk about all the things they are doing and seeing and keep scrap book items and brochures from everywhere you go. For older kids this could include journaling or taking videos. The Review is calling grandma to tell her in as much detail as possible about the trip, making scrap book pages or writing a story about the trip.
  • Give them Jobs – Once a child is three years old, they can help with packing by running to get simple items. Older children can be in charge of mapping the route or writing the itinerary. In the car, younger children can be the look out to “find” restaurants and gas stations, and older children can be navigators and mark milage.
  • Focus on Local – Research local foods and local traditions together. Take part in what you can. Be sure to note local vocabulary.
  • Review and Plan Each Night – Each night review the highlights of the day and list one or two plans for the next.
  • Be Flexible and Child Focused – I’ve found some of our best stops are unplanned, often found along the way. More than once on long car trips, we’ve been sidetracked by my younger daughter picking up an interesting brochure for a Children’s Museum or restaurant (Mr. Sticky’s Buns) at a rest stop.

Join me to discuss these ideas and several others at my workshop on Traveling with Children on Thursday June 21st. For more information and to register, please visit