By Jill Simonian
Brace yourselves, parents. National Sibling Day is Sunday. If you’ve got two or more kids, chances are you’ve worried and/or dealt with the ever-changing ups and downs of sibling relationships. While conflict between siblings is natural, studies have shown that siblings often affect the way kids perceive themselves and how they relate to others outside the home.
How do you help hone sibling relationships and stay sane through the squabbles?
1) Stay out of it: While parents often feel the need to intervene immediately, especially with younger children, opt to give kids a chance to settle disputes on their own. Arguing is normal and natural, and parents don’t always need to intervene or mediate a situation from the very beginning of the conflict. Also consider separating kids for intermittent periods of playtime during the day. Everyone needs space now and then. Family therapist Kelli Miller says: “Kids feel a sense of accomplishment when they settle things themselves. Kids often learn best by doing. By figuring out their conflicts on their own, kids develop a greater sense of confidence and overall resiliency, which help them in future conflicts.”
2) Don’t compare kids: Resist comparing children to each other, especially if the children live under the same roof. Why can’t you get grades like your sister? Why can’t you sit quiet like your brother? Ongoing comparison can create frustration with a child’s self-esteem and resentment toward their sibling. Children’s entertainment and education outlet The Mother Company offers a new children’s book titled “Miles Is a Mighty Brothersaurus” that addresses child-to-child resentment and provides kid-level solutions for developing a child’s self-esteem. More practical solutions from top parenting experts at The Mother Company available here.
3) Meet when everyone’s cool: For older kids and teens, consider calling a family meeting at a time when no one’s angry to get ahead of situations before they ignite. As the parent, explain that you’re going to mediate a talk about what upsets each of your children regarding the other (ie: I don’t want her coming into my room unannounced, etc.) and make a commitment about solving the problem in a way everyone can live with. Carve specific solutions that each child must adhere to and then check status in a week. “Validate your kids’ concerns, even if you don’t agree with them or have an immediate solution,” Miller suggests. “Letting your kids know you hear them is the first step in helping the family feel more united.”
Jill Simonian is a Parenting Lifestyle Contributor and appears every Wednesday on CBS Los Angeles’ News at 5pm. Her personal blog is TheFabMom.com. Follow Jill on Twitter @jillsimonian and connect with her on Facebook.