“Mum, he’s pinching me!” “That’s mine, not yours!” “Go away! I hate you!”
Do you hear this on a daily basis?
Do you find your children’s squabbling and fighting unpleasant?
Most would agree that siblings’ fighting is natural and a norm in growing up. I clearly remember not getting along with my own sibling. We have since outgrown the season of conflicts thankfully. How should parents and caregivers help their children get along?
Read more stories on: Kayaking in Singapore, Bird Paradise and Singapore Botanic Gardens
We have 6 tips to encourage harmony in sibling relationships.
6 Tips To Encourage Harmony In Sibling Relationships
Tip 1: Agree on House Rules
Think about crafting your family mission statement based on a set of values that the family will strive to embrace. Or write out rules on getting along, for instance, we shall be kind towards one another. Parents and caregivers should also set the tone to harmonious relationships. Apologise to each other
If there is unkindness or disrespect, steer them towards correcting their transgressions starting with a sincere apology and acts of kindness. Ensure that actions causing disharmony should be addressed and corrected with certain actions.
Similarly praise your children when they are getting along and being respectful and courteous to one another. Kind gestures and words should be encouraged.
Tip 2: Do not take sides and play favourites
It can be very hard to be objective and parents would have their favourite child. However, this can be challenging especially when you have to be the one mediating and facilitating good sibling relationships. Do not play favourites.
Think of yourself as a referee or umpire who has to determine who committed the foul, and face consequences. Let this umpiring be without emotions that could cloud your decisions. Try your best to be fair and dole out consequences, for all parties involved. It take two hands to clap and definitely two to fight.
Tip 3: Manage the Triggers and Spaces
There are common triggers that cause arguments. They will usually be about certain toys, books or spaces. One of the more common causes of fighting is the destruction of nicely built structures with blocks or LEGO. Remind your child who painstakingly built the structure to protect it, either by placing it beyond reach or putting it in a place that is inaccessible. Even if the inevitable happens, remind both the children of their emotions when someone destroys their tower or castle, and to make amends by rebuilding it.
If the squabbles are about sharing the space, ensure that they are aware of each other’s space. Draw boundaries if that helps or keep them in different rooms especially when they require focus and concentration. Homework time for instance, is best completed when my sons are in separate spaces and not disrupting each other’s focus.
Tip 4: Look for Ways that Encourage Collaboration and Cooperation
Rather than separation, look for ways that encourage collaboration.
For instance, give them tasks that they can do together. Whether it’s a card for Grandma, chores, errands, building a marble race or a Rube Goldberg machine – suggest ways that can get your siblings to work together. This gives them the opportunity to practise teamwork.
Tip 5: Ensure your children serves each other and the family
In a world that seems to outsource every task, sometimes we lack the opportunity to serve one another and the family. Perhaps our children can learn that their actions can be beneficial towards others and helping them to feel good. This encourages a consideration for others, especially the feelings and perspectives of their siblings they may lack.
Children are often limited in their perspectives and unable to put themselves in the shoes of others. We can help facilitate this by ensuring they serve the family through various acts such as serving drinks to guests, dishing out food for their siblings, buying loved ones treats and gifts.
Tip 6: Buy ONE unit for all, to encourage sharing
This might seem unconventional, buying one item for the siblings instead of one item per siblings doesn’t just save you money it also forces them to take turns and share.
I usually choose to buy one drink or choose one toy that the brothers can share. Apart from being thrifty, I believe in not over-contributing to the landfill by buying two identical things that they would not need and most likely forgotten in a day or two. Unless it’s an item that requires teamwork to play or a pair of rackets, for instance, things like a cup of bubble tea, a screen, a toy, a book can all be shared.
Promote Harmony not Rivalry
Parents, I’m sure you want to raise children who can get along with their closest family – their siblings and love them wholeheartedly. Encourage this love that is special in the family because this kind of relationship can never be replicated elsewhere.
Wishing you days of getting along, know that the conflicts can be just for a season and siblings who learn to get along will have each other’s backs for life!