Teach Your Children to Love Each Other
We all WANT our kids to love each other like best friends do.......
I can still hear my daughter screaming from the latest fight she had with her little brother. “He hit me, he won’t leave my room, I hate him.” It broke my heart. Even though I know she doesn’t mean the last part I still don’t like to hear it. One thing I try to encourage is a good relationship between my kids. Not only because I want some peace and quiet once in a while, but because I want my kids to always be there for each other. I look back on my childhood and I can remember some pretty nasty fights with my siblings; that left us wondering if we would ever speak again (we always did). However, I love them as much now as I did then, and I think somewhere in all those fights we formed an unbreakable bond.
A Hard Lesson to Learn
We teach our children many things but I think one of the hardest lessons to teach our kids is how to love and embrace their siblings. And maybe it isn’t a lesson that can be taught, maybe through all the fighting, biting, hair pulling, wrestling, screaming and driving us parents crazy, they are forming a bond.
My son can be quite a handful, he is full of energy and about as stubborn as they get. I remember having a little brother almost identical to him. He drives his older sister bonkers. Some days she begs me to let her lock herself in her room just to have some time away from him. I don’t see this as a huge problem, I just don’t want it to become a habit of her holing up in her room all day. I try to encourage activities for them to do, but in all honesty, my son doesn't play fair. He is four after all!.
Sometimes Parents Feel Helpless...
So as a parent I watch, concerned that maybe they will grow up and not like each other, maybe they will move away from each other and never speak again. That is one of my biggest fears. How can children that are raised so closely become strangers in their adult lives? It is important that we encourage our children to love and respect each other, but how do we keep that relationship alive in adulthood? Here are a few tips that I got from other parents.
Tips to Help Enourage Your Children to Have a Good Relationship with Each Other
1. Encourage the relationship but respect their individuality. This one can get tricky. I want my children to have a relationship with each other based on pure love…but sibling love is not like mother love. They aren’t always going to think that everything the other one does is wonderful, they are going to disagree and they will become different people, paving their own ways. The friends they chose may be completely different then the sibling they grew up with. So as kids grow up we need to respect that they think differently and guide them through their disagreements instead of always scolding them for fighting. If we respect that individuality that they have, they learn how to respect their differences as they grow up.
2. Family time is important. Some of the greatest memories I have with my siblings is family vacations, even if we camped in our backyard. That family time will build lasting memories and lasting bonds with each other.
3. Monitor their friendships closely. Luckily my daughter is very defensive of her little brother. If someone is being mean to him she is the first one to come to his defense (even if it was something she did earlier herself). However, I am very careful not to let her have playmates over that don’t treat him nicely. Younger siblings, especially at my sons age (4,) just want to feel included, and if your older child has friends that are able to embrace that it will help siblings embrace each other.
4. Get along with your siblings. Lead by example. I cannot very well ask my children to have a loving relationship with each other if they only see me fight with my siblings. Try to not say anything negative about your siblings in front of your children (this can be very hard). Children learn many things by seeing what their parents do, so teach them how to love each other by loving your siblings.
5. Be a shoulder to cry on, but don’t meddle. When they do fight, and they will probably forever, be there for them. Don’t defend the other child, because as a parent your first instinct will be to protect the child that isn’t there, just listen and separate yourself. You can best help your children solve their problems by letting them vent and listen to the issues. The difficult part about this is not to meddle in the relationship by playing a dangerous game of ‘he said, she said.’ Never call up your other child to tell them what their brother/sister said or ask them to behave differently. Their relationship will become separate from you (hard as that might be) and you must accept that your job is merely to listen and maybe offer up some helpful (non-judgmental) advice.
More Tips from Parents
Find something they have in common and let them explore that together
"Don’t push them to like the same things."
"Leave them alone- let them develop their own relationship by having alone time as well, without you."
"If possible have family playmates. Many people have children that might be close in age to your children."
"Take advice from other parents. Many parents may have good ideas on how they helped their children to develop a good relationship. Keep an open mind and listen."
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