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Parenting Tips for Raising Siblings

Updated on November 18, 2014

Raising more than one child requires some extra patience and energy, but the rewards are well worth the investment. When you have more than one child, you may have times when you wonder why you didn't stop at just one. The tendency for siblings to spend most of their time fighting each other and vying for your attention can get demanding, to say the least. As a mother of three, I’d like to share some tips and tricks that helped me handle the dreaded sibling rivalry. It is possible to get your children to be responsible, share, and help one another without losing your sanity.

Dealing with Sibling Rivalry

If you have more than one child, then you most likely have kids who fight now and then. One of the reasons kids fight with each other is because they want attention or because they want to feel like they're "number one". There are steps you can take to help quell the fighting. If your kids fight over toys or possessions, make sure you set rules. Make sure there are some things that each child can call their own and are not community property. Teach your kids to know which items are "hands off" for their siblings. All other toys are community property - to be shared with each other. This provides some personal space for each child and lets your children know that you value them and their belongings.

It's easy to give attention when there's a fight going on, but try to schedule some time throughout the day for some one-on-one attention for each child. Making each child feel special goes a long way to preventing rivalry. Praise your child or offer a reward when they make it a whole day without fighting. Be open and honest with your children and enlist their help. Ask your kids questions such as, "Listen, today I need you to get along and support each other instead of fighting. Can you help me with that today? Is there anything you need from me right now?". Sometimes honesty is the best policy. Be open to noticing when your child needs some extra attention from you, then take the time to give it to him or her.

Try to intervene as little as possible in squabbles. Teach your children to mediate their own disputes. You can teach this by taking them aside and asking them, "How do you think we should solve this so that both people win?" Their first answer will probably be something that to gets them their own way, but you can make it a teachable moment by asking, "How does that solution please you and him (or her)?". If you approach problems in this way, they will soon start to think this way themselves and find their own solutions to disputes.

Getting Older Kids to Help Younger Kids

To get your older child to help with the younger children, make the older child feel important. Play up his or her importance to you. Help your older child to empathize with the younger ones by talking in depth about situations. Let the older child know how happy he has made the younger ones by his or her actions. Give your older child a title in the family organization, like "mother's assistant" but remember not to rely on him or her too much. The older child is still a child, with a child's wants and needs. If the child is old enough, you might consider paying him or her for the help he/she provides. Praise the older child often and reward him or her with a little more freedom of choice. Remember, too, to stay positive and never call any of your children names that you don't want the other children repeating.

Helping Kids to Share

As mentioned earlier in this article, make sure your child has a few possessions that he doesn't have to share. Everyone needs their own personal treasures that they don't need to share with others. Instruct your kids in how to share. If you don't have more than one item to go around, set a timer to help kids know when it's time to share. Compliment children when they share, and reward them if they share all day without fighting. Again, when a dispute arise, ask the child how he or she should solve the problem. Teach them how to solve their own problems.

If you have more than one child, do you find your children to be quite different in their personalities?

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Dealing with Unique Personalities

You want to be fair and treat each child the same, but you also need to approach each child on his or her level. Instead of buying two of the same toys, purchase a toy that caters to each child's level and interests. If one child is more timid than the other, don't force him or her to go against her nature. Individualizing your time and attention reinforces the idea that each child is special in his or her own way.


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