Posted in Parenting

Eight Tips for Helping Siblings Get Along

  1. Use consequences for conflict. You get to decide when a consequence is issued. You may decide it is only for physical aggression, or you may decide that it’s when a child starts yelling. Whatever you decide, the important thing is to be consistent!
  2. … BUT don’t punish everyone for the actions of one. If only one child began yelling or hit their sibling, don’t punish both of them if the other didn’t do anything wrong. This definitely will not foster a good sibling relationship (think of a sales team losing out on an incentive because just ONE employee didn’t meet their goal). Make the consequences individualized.
  3. PRACTICE – give your children opportunities to play together. If they are always in separate rooms and/or playing with separate toys, they won’t have the opportunity to practice sharing and playing cooperatively with others. Note: you may want to sit in the room with them to be able to observe and respond to conflict.  And when they are getting along…
  4. PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE – Let your children know they’re doing a good job sharing and playing nicely together. Let them know you’re proud of them and how much you appreciate it. You can even give small rewards if your children REALLY have a tough time just about every time they play together.
  5. Try not to FIX it for them every time – teach them instead! When conflict does happen (and it WILL), don’t just jump in and fix it. Instead, talk to your children about their behavior and talk to them about solutions. Give them the chance to learn how to work through conflict and use those problem-solving skills to come up with a solution. They may not be able to do so every time, but at least walk them through the steps to let them try.
  6. Set terms for taking turns, rather than forcing them to share – if there is a favorite toy, don’t just expect your kids to be able to share it. They may get there eventually, but it doesn’t happen with the snap of a finger. You’ll likely benefit from giving them each a set amount of time with the toy and having them take turns.
  7. Give them ideas for playing together – give them a challenge to work towards together. For example, challenge them to make the longest train track or the highest stack of toy cars. Don’t make it a competition, make it something they can do together (TEAMWORK!).
  8. Set physical boundaries to give them some space, if needed. This tip is for siblings who find it VERY hard to play in the same room. If you feel it’s necessary, set physical boundaries. Place a strip of tape along the center of the playroom or send the children to different rooms. You don’t want to do this all the time (see tip 3), but it can give children some much-needed space to cool down.


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