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10 Ways to Encourage Peace Among Siblings

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It comes with the territory: once you have more than one child, you have kids in conflict. Whether it's sibling rivalry, battles over toys, or just a case of clashing personalities, fights between siblings are annoying and frustrating to the parents who must endure them. We feel you, mamas. Here are 10 ways to foster the peace for a better relationship now and in the future.

Let Love Rule

a mom kissing her baby on the cheek

Let your little ones know you couldn't love them more. Tell and show each of them this individually and on a daily basis. When kids feel secure in their parents' love, they're less likely to feel the resentment or jealousy that can cause fights between siblings.

Never Compare

two sisters playing with their mom

Don't compare your kids to each other. When you do, you're causing them to feel hurt and insecure, and creating a competitive environment for everyone. Instead, speak to your kids without referring to their siblings. If you want your son to hang up his coat, describe the situation—I see a coat on the floor, or your coat belongs in the closet—rather than saying "Why can't you hang up your coat like your sister?" When you praise a child, do so without comparing him to a sibling.

Avoid Being a Referee

two sibling boys arguing

Stay out of your children's squabbles as much as possible. Unless they are inflicting physical pain on each other, it's best to let kids try to resolve their conflicts by themselves. When you do feel the need to step in, don't take sides or issue blame. Instead, listen to the explanations of both kids respectfully, and then let them know you have confidence in their ability to work things out.

Make One-on-One Time

two siblings posing at a movie theater

Kids crave alone time with their parents, and if they don't ever get any, it can cause resentment among siblings. Set up special one-on-one dates with all of your children regularly. Let them choose the activity and give them your undivided attention while you're out.

Assume a Good Relationship

two siblings smiling and posing against a blue wall

Parents' attitude toward the sibling relationship can often set the stage for how it will play out. Encouraging rivalry through comments or actions will lead kids to compete and to see each other as the enemy. Instead, foster and even assume a friendship and close relationship between your kids. When the emphasis is on the benefits and importance of the relationship, rather than the animosity, that's the message your kids will take away about their relationship.

Encourage Kids to Talk About their Feelings

a mom and her baby talking

A little one with a new baby at home might physically act out against his sibling because he's being flooded with emotions of resentment and fears of being replaced. When your child hits or pushes his sibling, talk to him about what's going on instead of yelling or punishing him. Help him work through his feelings of anger to understand the vulnerabilities he's feeling. Talk about some alternative ways he could express those emotions, such as by punching the couch instead of the baby. Then make sure he knows that you couldn't love him more, and that you'll always make time for him, no matter what.

Praise Good Behavior

two siblings playing with toys on the floor with their parents watching from the sofa

When you see your kids playing happily together, be sure to let them know that you're noticing how much fun they're having with each other. Give them plenty of compliments on their cooperation and sharing skills. Take photos of them working as a team to show them later.

Set Ground Rules

two siblings wrestling on a sofa

Let your kids know what behavior is ok and what isn't. And clearly communicate the consequences as well. Then should your kids begin to disagree with each other and challenge the rules, you have already spelled out what they can expect from their behavior.

Head Off Conflicts

two siblings playing with some vegetables

Set your kids up for successful playing together by heading off any known potential trouble areas. For example, if your kids always fight over the trucks but do well sharing the blocks, put the trucks away and encourage them to build something together. If fights arise when they're tired or hungry, offer a snack and quiet time before they can get into it.

Really Listen

a mom talking to her daughter alone

Make sure you're really tuning in when your kids are talking to you about conflicts they're having with their siblings. Children, like adults, want their feelings acknowledged and not casually dismissed. Let your little one share about why her sibling is bothering her, and let her know you understand why she feels frustrated. Ask her to show you how she feels through a creative outlet like drawing a picture or punching a pillow.

 
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