Watching your children play nicely together really is a joy for any parent to behold. Yet, siblings often have very different personalities, and this can cause some friction. How can we help our kids to get along and play nicely together?
- Give each child enough one-on-one attention. Parents cannot be blamed for the personality differences and other factors that cause conflict even from a very young age, but parents can reduce any potential for sibling rivalry developing by giving each child the time that they deserve without the other sibling present. It may sometimes be hard to achieve but the simple act of reading a story to your child separate from their sibling(s) will show them that you value them individually and that no sibling will separate them from your love and attention. Giving each child the attention they need and deserve will help playtime to be fun and educational, and avoid the friction that results when siblings tussle for the attention of parents.
- Teach your children to resolve issues through communication. This may sound obvious but it’s all too easy to end up trying to deal with any bust-ups yourself without the siblings learning to communicate. Instead of parents having to judge who is in the wrong on each occasion, many parents have found teaching children to acknowledge the feelings of their sibling, clearly communicate their own feelings and apologise where necessary is a pathway to closer sibling relationships. Sometimes it’s a bit difficult for younger children to express themselves, but getting them to explain to the sibling that annoyed or hurt them how they feel will really help them long-term, and allow them to play together nicely for extended periods of time.
- Use games that siblings of all ages can participate in. Children of all ages love a good game of ‘hide and seek’, ‘peek-a-boo’ or ‘follow-the-leader’, and by helping your baby to move around, even they can participate and enjoy the game with everyone else. Balloons are also a great option to get everyone to play together, and children can find almost limitless ways to entertain themselves with them (just be careful of balloons with babies, popped balloons could be a choking hazard). Building little tunnels and pathways is another activity that can bring everyone together, and crawling or walking through tunnels really neutralises any differences related to age or academic ability. If you plan activities that are fun for all age groups and siblings, you can sit back and enjoy watching your kids play nicely together while you can take a breather. Bliss!