Watching my three children grow up together is a close second.
There’s nothing like your oldest snuggling and loving on your youngest to reduce your mama heart into a melted puddle of butter in 2.2 seconds flat.
Or seeing your rambunctious used to be the baby of the family- middle child and youngest child’s sweet bond that is unique in its own way. No one told me about those sweetest sibling moments that will *almost* make you want to keep having more just so you can see their bond grow and develop.
Nurturing Sibling Relationships
I feel strongly about sibling relationships. Now that I have three kids I think the sibling bond is more important than ever. My husband and I are outnumbered and the feeling of being pulled in three different directions can often lead to feelings of guilt. Here’s how we encourage their relationships with us and each other.
Take advantage of 1×1 time
Even if it’s a trip to the store or running a random errand, my husband and I try to take advantage of the times we are forced to split up and use it to our advantage to make it special for the kiddo who gets us all to themselves. One thing we have not yet done but is on our list of to-do’s for 2020 is to designate a date day/night with each of our older girls. Since adding their little brother to our family, I feel this is especially important and will help develop our individual relationships with each of them so they don’t feel the need to compete for our attention.
Use fights as problem-solving opportunities
Our girls fight like most siblings. When their brother gets older, I’m sure that will add a whole different dynamic that we may have to adjust and try different things.
I’m not sure if we’re the only ones but my girls are either fighting SO much (over the SMALLEST things too!) or getting along perfectly. There really is no middle with those two. When they do fight, not only do I try to stay out of it as much as possible (within reason) so they can reach a solution on their own and I’m not the bad guy choosing a side- but if they can’t- I step in and we talk about how to resolve the conflict where each person may win.
Our school uses the 7 Habits of Happy Kids and we use these at home too. These habits integrate magically with sibling relationships and are so useful in guiding our talks when they’re feeling upset and frustrated with one another.
I don’t really believe that because someone is your sister or brother that you can treat them poorly or say unkind things to them “just because they’re my brother or sister.” I don’t wave it off as “just sisters fighting.” Unkind words are unkind words and unkind actions are just that.
We talk a lot about the golden rule and how we can’t pick and choose who that applies to. My girls can say or do things to one another that they would NEVER do to anyone else. I’m trying to teach them that the kindness and the way we treat others, also includes each other. I may sound like a broken record but after they have been fighting, I remind them of this. Being unkind or getting violent is NEVER ok.
If all else fails, we separate them and give them a break from each other. Just like adults, sometimes all it takes is a little space and room to breathe.
If you have more than one child, I’m sure you have experienced sibling fights and all the arguing (PS- why must they argue SO much in the car?!) These ideas don’t eliminate the arguing but I do believe that by being intentional in developing my own individual relationships with each child, giving them individuality and creativity to develop their own unique personalities, and guiding problem solving during arguments, has helped tremendously in supporting their sibling bonds.