How to Get your Kids to be Friends

All parents want their kids to be friends with each other, and many are some of the time. The rest of the time is spent bickering, arguing, and fighting. This can be frazzling to even the most patient parents. Before you snap for the bazillionth time, yelling, “You’re brother and sister, you are supposed to love each other,” read this blog about steps you can take to help your kids build a friendly sibling relationship.

Make them Help Each Other

One of the best ways to build sibling cohesion is to ask them to help each other in day-to-day small things. Ask them to help each other find a toy, pick up their rooms, put on socks, etc. This can build the idea that they are on the same team and help them develop a cooperative attitude. Make sure that they help each other more or less equally, if one is helping a lot and the other helping only a little, that can build resentment.

Give a lot of Attention to Each Child

One of the best things parents can do to prevent sibling rivalry is to make each child feel special and loved the same as others. This doesn’t mean that everything has to be the same, it means that they should perceive that things are equal. Kids notice if you tend to take the same side in arguments, spend more time with one, or even praise one more than the other.

Take time to explain to kids why something is fair, even when they believe it isn’t. For example, if one child gets to stay up later than the other, explain that when the younger one is older, she can stay up later too. They may not understand or believe your reasoning is acceptable, but they will understand that this is something you have given thought to, and that counts.

Don’t Break up Every Fight

Kids fight because they haven’t learned the skills for negotiating conflict in other ways. One thing you can do, is help your children identify emotions and teach them how to use words to describe what they are feeling. This alone can help lessen frustration.

If you overhear an argument brewing, give it time before you jump in, they can often resolve differences themselves. This will help you feel less stressed, and help them practice resolving conflict. When fights escalate to hitting or cruel teasing, that is your time to jump in. Don’t take sides, when there is a fight, usually both sides contributed to the fight. Ask them to go to their rooms to cool down, and then let them talk out the argument using conflict resolution techniques. This is not a good time to ask them to rehash what started the argument, which can heat up the fight again. We like this technique from Responsive Classroom.

Demonstrate Sibling Friendliness

If you can’t get along with your own siblings, it will be harder for your own kids to understand sibling friendliness. You don’t always have to be best friends with your sibling, but you can demo how to fight fair, be respectful even in anger, and how to control your emotions when you are upset.

You can also talk to your kids about times when you fought with your siblings, but how now you get along and how happy it makes you to be friends with your brother or sister. Talk about something you’ve helped them with and fun things you’ve done together, in spite of fights you had when you were young.

Sibling Rivalry

Living through the years when your children fight like cats and dogs can be difficult to take, but follow these tips and you can look forward to a future of fewer arguments. Even your kids can become friends.