All About Kids
A Parents’ Guide To Raising Loving Siblings
Sibling rivalry may be a common thing but some parents have made it possible for siblings to grow up with a more loving and collaborative relationship.
It’s not unusual for parents to see loving siblings squabble when raising them but, there are days that it gets out of hand.
However, those moments when things escalate can either make or break their relationship. Especially if the disciplinary actions differ in approach with one appearing more lenient to the other, one sibling may feel bitter with unprocessed feelings. But there are times we soften our parenting approaches subconsciously to the child we gel better with, especially if they behave in a way we prefer.
To make sure we’re raising loving siblings, here are some time and tested tips to help.
1. Be fair.
Sticking to one disciplinary action is one way to show we’re fair while raising siblings. Consistency in disciplining them also better teaches that the behavior we’re punishing is wrong either way. While it kind of makes the siblings band together to “go against us,” that’s the point of the exercise: to make sure they stand together no matter what, even if we have to play bad cop for awhile.
2. Be open if there must be specific treatments.
This usually occurs with younger children when they see their siblings receiving more attention or positive approaches when disciplining them. This embitters them, making them feel that they’re the “punching bag” or “workhorse” of the family.
Be open to them and explain to that sibling why our approach with that sibling is in that specific way, especially if that sibling suffers from developmental delays or medical concerns. Sitting down with them, processing their feelings, and explaining things to them also helps them understand their sibling better. Who knows? You might even find an ally in that child to make a better world for their sibling!
3. Acknowledge their exclusive likes and dislikes.
Although we love dressing the siblings in matching clothes, that’s only cute until they grow old enough to decide what their look is. When raising siblings, there will be times when they would prefer to do things on their own rather than together. And when that happens, we support them in whatever way we can. While siblings do love each other, they don’t want to live in each other’s shadow forever.
At the same time, it helps them establish their own friend groups beyond their sibling. Even siblings need a break from each other every now and then!
4. Always give them equal “air time.”
Siblings will compete for attention but providing them equal time to air out their issues and tell their stories sends two messages: 1) both of their stories are equally important, and 2) you acknowledge that they are also two different people. This tip however is for older kids, starting from tween to all the way into adulthood.
5. Don’t force the sibling to participate in what the other sibling likes.
The unequal treatment usually starts here: one sibling has to do what the other sibling likes. It usually starts with restaurants, especially if one sibling is a picky eater. While some children are not too fussy with their food, it helps if we ask the non-picky ones every so often what they would like to do. That way, they still feel part of the family.
6. Make sure siblings reciprocate goodwill to one another.
Teach them that all forms of goodwill between siblings should be reciprocated. That way, they will always support each other. A lot of the bitterness usually comes from the lack of validation from either the parent or the sibling in question. But by reminding them to always to return the favor, it keeps things fair and transparent between the two.
Raising loving siblings needs us to be fair and impartial.
Although we have our biases and preferences for certain personalities and behaviors, that’s what usually leads to tense sibling rivalries. Raising siblings to have a loving relationship, whether they have a big age gap or not, demands a certain level of impartiality and fairness because it shows that we love them equally.
But the balancing act between empathy and fairness is a delicate one, especially when our kids have certain quirks and pet peeves inherited from our partners. It’s an exercise of patience, for sure. However, we know that the hard work will definitely pay off.