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Healthy Sibling Rivalry

How do I help my kids get along with eachother?

Well, it does not happen overnight, and sibling squables will still occur. In fact, they are possibly the only form of rivalry that can assist in social development...IF the parent is prudent.

The key in all childhood behaviors is to approach them proactively. This means we stay on top of cues, and we form a routine/home rules, that are understood by all - assisting in preventing unwanted behahaviors amongst multiple kids in the home.

Here are my top 10 tips!

1. Have clear, simple household rules that are understood by all (even for parents!). I will eleaborate in another post but for now, our rules are simply: I take care of my mind. I take care of my body. I take care of others. I take care of my space. They really cover it all!

2. Treat children FAIRLY, not equally. Depending on their age, they should have different expectations, consequences (I do not use this word synomously with punishment), and even privlages. My oldest understands that her 4 year old sister is still learning the art of sharing new-to-her items. My 4 year old understands the 1 year old is not expected to help us clean...he may even be the reason we have so much to organize! My 4 year old also understands that her big sister can stay up a bit later than her.

3. Less is more, but make sure you have duplicates. This is concerning toys, clothes, books, and other items in the home. Keeping toys in a coherent organized manner helps, also. Toys should also be rotated out as to not become an imagination crutch. If children are very close in age, it can become even more important to have multiples of items for each child to use. However, less really IS more and fosters creative play. Siblings get along MUCH better when engaging in creative play vs structured play that involves toys.

4. Mininal screen time. Simply put - studies have proven for decades now that screens inhibit our brains, no matter why or how we use them. They also cause behavior issues that you would not even connect to their tech time. Parents who have detoxed their homes of too much tech time can 100% attest to its absence causing a shift in behavior for the good!

5. Have regular family time with EVERYONE. Nothing will ever replace sit down dinners, together. Do not lose sight of the simplest things that promote family bonding! Planning trips together and then taking them too, will always be good for the soul.

6. Allow regular ALONE time too! Homeschooling families especially spend huge amounts of time together. It can be difficult, but try to carve out alone time WITH each of your kids weekly. It can be as simple as painting nails together or a girls' afternoon out! Your kids also need general time away from eachother. Encourage quiet or creative time to be spent alone, doing things they enjoy.

7. Let them sort it out! Sibling rivalry is also a time to put those problem solving skills to use. We can create a healthy space for our kids to discuss their problems amongst themselves. This will be their first encounter with social disagreements. Do not solve or intervene with every last problem your kids meet together. We will meet many people we disagree with in life. "Practicing" how to properly manage that with siblings is both healthy in the long-term, and short-term.

8. Celebrate differences! Make sure everyone knows that while a family is a team - we are all unique and bring something to the family that no one else could! We each complete our families in our own, special ways...even if it means being the "odd ball" of the family...we all have one!

9. Be the example. Children who are exposed to ubhealthy problem solving skills will learn to apply these behaviors to their own lives.

10. Minimize "tattling" by having a clear definition of what it is and by defining now vs later problems, and self solved vs. adult solved problems. In my home, my kids are instructed to get adult help when someone is in danger, feels unsafe, or was injured in any way. These are NOW problems, as well. Other problems like who uses what toy first, are problems they can now discuss and work out themselves (this is something we treat as lessons in our home, and you may search the group for activities we do to teach these lessons).

My girls have their share of sibling rivalry, for sure! Baby brother already has added his fun personality to the mix. But they get along and are the best of friends 90% of the time. What rivalries they do have keep them not only able to problem solve with those they love, it allows them to admire eachother as unique inidividuals.

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