While a certain amount of sibling rivalry may be normal in families, what happens when it goes too far, and you start to feel like a bouncer because of all the fights you have to break up every day? It's time to employ some strategies to help your kids play well together, and become the friends you want them to be.
What can I do to teach my children to get along? Here are 5 parenting tips.
1. Maintain high standards.
The more you expect from your kids, the more you will get. That being said, don't expect your 18-month-old to behave as if he's five, but be aware that the more you believe in your children, the more they will blossom. Expect proper manners and appropriate behavior. Don't allow one child to dictate how the home is run. When you expect your kids to behave and treat each other with respect, you may find their behavior improves.
2. Don't force children to share.
This relates to the above tip. If children are taught to respect each other, and practice The Golden Rule (treat others as you want to be treated), they will start wanting to share, and put others first. Forcing them to share their toys will just make them more possessive and potentially aggressive. Depending on the child's attitude, sometimes there is nothing wrong with them keeping their toys to themselves. Especially if a younger sibling is likely to damage an older sibling's stuff. Remind the younger sibling that when they are older, they can earn toys like their older sibling.
3. Reward positive behavior.
When Johnny lets Sarah sit in the front seat without a fight, commend him for being kind and putting his sister first. Find out what your kids are motivated by, and use that to your advantage. They can add this wish to a digital reward chart and your family can check off each time they manage to get ready for school without an argument breaking out.
4. Don't take sides.
Sometimes sibling squabbles are just to attract your attention. When you find your children fighting and automatically ask ‘who started it', then punish the child that did, and let the other go free, you show favoritism to the ‘victim' child. It takes two to fight, so if your kids are squaring off, it's both their faults. Remind them both that fighting is inappropriate, and then punish them both equally.
5. Step back and let nature take its course.
Unless your kids are about to hurt each other physically, sometimes you are better to ignore the situation and let it work itself out on its own. Don't sit back and allow excessive bullying or rude remarks, but realize that childhood is when kids learn how to form healthy relationships with other humans. Their siblings are a good place to start. When you automatically end every battle, you teach them that mom is just going to step in and make it all better. They will never learn to solve a conflict this way.
Remember that someday, when your children are adults, they will probably look back on childhood and realize that you only wanted the best for them. Remember that your job is to train them to be responsible adults and to interact with others they meet in a positive way. Sibling relationships are a wonderful way to learn these skills.