I have three children, all wonderful boys that I adore. However the matter of whether they adore each other is a different story entirely. My oldest two sons are two years apart. Being so close in age, they often don’t get along. I know that some sibling rivalry is normal but man, do they sometimes take it to extremes. One day I had enough. I want my kids to actually like each other as adults and I didn’t see how that ever was going to happen. If you are in the same boat as me, read the suggestions in this article for some ideas on how to help your children get along better. They may never be best friends but they are brothers and like me, I’m sure you want your kids to get along on some level so that they’ll be there for each other in the future.
#1: Give Each Child a Turn to Share Their Story
When my children have conflict with one other, I have them tell me their story, one at a time. They learned quickly that I would not settle for them yelling me their versions of the story at the same time. Instead each child gets a turn before I decide an outcome of what they were arguing about.
#2: Don’t Set Your Kids Up Against Each Other Unknowingly
For your kids to get along, don’t set them up against each other. My oldest two kids always seem to be in competition which other even when I don’t know it. Sometimes we’ll do something and one of them will pop up with “Mom, which one of us was best today?” I never say “Well your brother was better then you.” Instead I’ll offer “It’s not a contest, both of you behaved fine on our outing.” Now if one of them really was better then the other, I don’t give a comment about it other then “It’s not a contest” because if I started jumping up and down saying “Hey kiddo! You were the best one today! You beat your brother,” that would just continue setting them up against each other which in turn helps break them apart.
#3: Stop Comparing
One of the most emotionally damaging things that you can do is to compare one child to the other. You should never say “Your brother is so good at that, why aren’t you?” or “Your sister can get the job done, what is your problem? Comments like that will only make your child feel bad that they don’t measure up to their sibling and they may start to have bad feelings towards them.
Find something that your kids both enjoy doing and give them a project for it where they have to work as a team. They may argue in the beginning but by having them work on various projects together can help promote closeness between them in the end.
Have a weekly activity where each member of your family finds one to two things to compliment about each family member. Your kids may grit their teeth in the beginning when they have to say something positive about their sibling but as time goes on, they’ll find it easier to come up with their brother or sisters good points.
#6: Let Them Work Out Their Own Problems
There will come times where your child simply needs to work out their own problems. You can’t keep stepping in on everything; they have to learn to come to a compromise on their own. You’ll know what situations they should figure out themselves. Trust your instincts.
Read more from Shannon Wilson:
Having a Child with PDD-NOS
How to Raise Money on Back to School Night
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