Brothers and sisters have great impact on each other. If you teach your child how to get along with siblings, how to love and care for them, it will have an immensely positive influence on their character development, future friendship skills, ability to compromise or even direct them away from risky behavior.
Brothers and sisters shape each other’s behavior
The importance of siblings’ influence on our development was greatly underestimated. For a long time, the popular opinion was that the main factors influencing a child’s development are parents, genes and environment. Today, our understanding of child psychology has changed.
Siblings influence each other from the very birth and this influence will stay present even when friends and spouses leave or after parents die. Siblings are part of us for life. Relationships siblings develop impact many things – their social skills, empathy, ability to share, resolve conflict, cope with jealousy or have an independent opinion.
On average, kids spend one third of their time with siblings, which is a lot more time than they spend with parents or friends. Siblings can’t walk away from each other the same way they can from friends; this is a powerful character-shaping force, a way to learn to cope with things, negotiate and adapt – it’s a practice tool for later situations in life. That is why it’s so important to teach your child how to get along with siblings.
How to help siblings to get along and love each other
– Give love equally. Make sure your kids know you love them all the same way. Try to be as fair as possible and fight against parental favoritism. Never punish or try to shame one child by comparing his/hers failures with the success of another – this will create jealousy. It’s common that jealousy created from parental favoritism stays with a child for a lifetime.
-Encourage respect and appreciation. Set a good example and praise your kids for good behavior each day. Teach your child to praise a sibling for helping tie a shoelace, sharing a toy, being quiet while doing homework, any small act of kindness that would otherwise go unnoticed. This way, kids will feel proud and important; it will help them understand being kind has its rewards.
– Timely reaction saves the day. If kids are tired, hungry, bored or otherwise tense, they might start fighting for no apparent reason. This is not because they don’t like each other, but because they don’t know how to deal with emotions. Separate them before they start fighting and keep them occupied with activities they like.
– Gratitude for having a sibling. Teach your child what a wonderful thing it is to have a sibling. Tell them interesting stories (real life or fairy tales) that emphasize the importance of having caring and loving siblings. Create some fun team play projects, things they wouldn’t be able to do alone without help from a sibling.
-Praise the problem solving. Teach your child how to act in a conflict situation. Any time your kid chooses to walk away from a fight or suggests a solution to the problem rather than argue over it – reward such behavior. It’s important to reward any attempts of peaceful problem solving no matter how small they are.
– Right to physical and emotional space. Teach your child he/she has the right for personal privacy. This also means other siblings have that right too. They shouldn’t have to spend all their time together. Even if they share a room, you will prevent a lot of unnecessary fights if you set rules about what belongs to whom. Make sure there are consequences for crossing the line. Encourage kids it’s better to get help from you if they feel they can’t resolve a situation without yelling and arguing.