Helping Your Kids with Extended Family Harmony

Helping Your Kids with Extended Family Harmony

Many parents dream of having kids around the same time as their siblings. They imagine the little group of cousins, built-in friends. 

While many kids do come to appreciate their extended family, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, kids may not get along well with cousins or extended relatives. If this is the case, family reunions and holiday gatherings can be a nightmare. 

The good news is that your family isn’t destined for bad family events. Today, we’ll discuss how to help your kids learn extended family harmony. 

Why Don’t My Kids Get Along with Their Cousins?

First, it’s important to understand why kid cousins may not always get along. If you can get to the bottom of the reason, you may be able to resolve the situation and help them get along better. Every situation is different, but some common reasons include:

  • Different interests. 
  • Big age gap. 
  • Rarely see each other. 
  • One cousin or group of cousins is bullying or excluding. 
  • Rivalry or disconnect between the parents. 
  • Behavior difficulties 

Occupy the Kids Together 

Leaving extended family kids to all run off and play with each other may not work well if there’s a history of conflict. If that’s the case, try fostering a bond through structured activities. You could lead an art project for the kids, have a movie night, decorate cookies, etc. Plan out some activities that the kids can do together while still having their own space. This can help them find some common ground. 

Set Behavior Expectations

Make sure that all parents and kids are on the same page when it comes to behavior. Outline the rules at the location and explain the consequences to each kid. Work together as parents to make sure everyone is on the same page and sending the same message. 

Mediate

Instead of just having all the kids “work it out” when there’s an issue, offer support. The key is to not just favor your child in every situation. Serve as a mediator. Allow each party to explain their perspective, and work together to find a solution. For example, if your daughter does not want to share her special doll, and that’s making the cousins mad, talk about the importance of sharing and what the cousins could do to make her feel safe to share. Kids are still developing and will need help navigating conflict and problem-solving. 

Extended family gatherings can be stressful and frustrating, but they can also produce some of our fondest memories. When kids struggle to get along with cousins and extended family, it puts a damper on the entire family. Fortunately, the adults can work together to teach the kids extended family harmony.