9 Sensible Tips For Fostering Strong Relationships Between Siblings

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Originally featured in msn.com

While siblings have no say when it comes to being a brother or sister, they can decide if they want to be lifelong friends. The possibility for this special bond to endure often depends on how their relationship was fostered during childhood – which isn’t an easy task. Whether your little ones are close in age or have years between them, there’s always a potential for squabbling, comparisons, and small resentments to turn into major issues. To help form a strong connection between your children, check out these nine tips for building unbreakable relationships between children.

1.Expect Respect

Even during disagreements, set a standard of respect from a very young age. Do not fall into the habit of ruling that your younger child can get away with bad behavior simply because of his or her age. Instead, make it clear that you expect all of your children to show good listening skills, treat the other how they would want to be treated, and work together on learning how to understand where each child is coming from.

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2. Look For a Pattern

If your kiddos are continuously bickering about the same thing, really listen to their individual concerns and look for a pattern. If they are starting fights as a way to get your attention or just because they’re bored, you can work on solving the source of the problem, which will prevent the relationship with their sibling from suffering.

 

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3. Initiate Teamwork

Setting up meaningful activities where all of your children are out of their comfort zone and working together can be a powerful bonding experience. Instead of picking hobbies that one sibling excels at (like their favorite sport), come up with new opportunities to engage that are a common ground. This will keep someone from feeling inferior in someone else’s territory and allows them to grow together.

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4. Teach Them How to Make Up

It’s not just important for your children to learn how to fight respectfully and among themselves. Just as you want your children to develop an independent relationship where they can work on their problems without running straight for parental intervention, it’s equally essential that they learn how to properly make up and move past the issue once it’s resolved. Developing the skills to say sorry, truly mean it, and move on will allow their relationship to blossom as they get older.

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5. Foster Mutual Support

Encourage empathy and understanding between your children by reminding them that they are cheerleaders for each other. Make sure each child attends events that are important to the other, and not just because there isn’t a babysitter or a play date but out of excitement for the other child, to ensure that the support flows both ways.

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6. Keep From Comparing

Just because you try not to compare your little ones doesn’t mean that they aren’t doing the comparing themselves. Teach them the importance of individuality and how to honor, respect, and encourage both their differences and their similarities – no matter how big or small they might be.

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7. Know the Difference Between Fair and Equal

Part of teaching your children how not to compare is by explaining the difference between fairness and equality. Being fair is when things happen out of necessity, like a child getting something new because he or she needs it for a class. However, being equal is when if something happens to one it happens to everyone, like all of the kids getting something new just because one child did. Once precedence for fairness and not equality is set, your little ones can stop focusing on comparing what they aren’t getting and be happy for the other child when it’s their turn.

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8. Don’t Overlook Individual Time

Even though you’re focused on fostering this strong bond between siblings, it’s important to also realize that your little ones don’t have to spend every second together or can’t pursue their own interests with separate friends. Working on honoring individuality is also a key part of raising children who can support each other.

 

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9. Set an Example

You don’t have to have siblings or close relationships with your own brothers and sisters to set an example of the importance of that special bond for your own children. Just by encouraging family time and dealing with your own conflicts respectfully, you’re setting a powerful tone for how your children should treat each other.

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