When I was pregnant with my second born, one of the parenting questions that kept me up, like literally, had me stressed was wondering if my children would have strong sibling bonds. Our girls are four years apart, and one of the things that worry me is the fact that they won’t have a healthy relationship because of their age gap. So as soon as they were born, I made it a priority to try my best to find ways to cultivate a strong sibling relationship between them in hopes that the bond will last a lifetime.
How to Cultivate Strong Sibling Bonds
Siblings are an integral part of our children’s development, so it’s only right that we want them to get along. I have three siblings – an older sister and two younger brothers. When I was younger, if I needed a guy’s view, I would reach out to my brothers and vice versa. My sister is my shoulder to lean on whenever I need it. My siblings are an essential part of my life, and I can’t imagine life without them.
- By Starting Early. The earlier you start, the better. Although the idea of creating a sibling bond when one of the siblings is a baby might seem daunting, it isn’t impossible. Right from the start, we made my oldest daughter aware of our impending addition. We made sure she was involved along the way, helping with picking the theme of the nursery and playing the role of big sister and protector. I shared my own experience with being a sibling and what it means to me. By modeling excellent behavior, we create a foundation for our children to build upon.
- By Encouraging Playtime. This is easier said than done, especially when they have vast interests, and there is an age gap. However, by spending time together doing things they both enjoy, this allows them to bond and make timeless memories. For us, that means giving the girls space where they can do things they love. They both enjoy painting, working on puzzles, and watching a few shows on Disney and Nick. So I try as much as possible to set some time apart for them to do just that but also making sure they have some time to themselves. We also create opportunities to bond together as a family.
- By Resisting the Urge to Compare. We have all heard that saying – “comparison is the thief of joy.” Our children are unique individuals, yes they might have similar features and characteristics, but they are still unique in their particular way. They have different personalities. Comparing them could lead to sibling rivalry. So as hard as it might be, try not to compare their efforts, achievement, or failures. I have been guilty of this a few times, so I have to continually remind myself not to compare them because it could lead to resentment. Rather than pitting them against each other, I encourage them to work together as a team. To connect not only as siblings but as friends, but most importantly good people so I can avoid raising a mean girl.
- By Resolving Conflicts Tactfully. I have lost counts of how many, mommy she did this or that. Our children don’t always get along; they argue, fight, etc. No matter who I think is at fault; I resist the blame game. It’s not always easy, but at the end of it all, I make sure they hug it out. It sounds laughable, but keep in mind, my girls are currently ages 10 and 6 so young enough for these things to matter. Yes, I know that conflict is okay and sometimes necessary, but it’s the way that they resolve it that matters.
- By Praising Good Behavior. Whenever I see our girls getting along and being totally lovey-dovey towards each other, I take a moment to acknowledge it by taking a picture and letting them know how much joy it brings to my life to see them together. It could be as simple as them cuddling on the couch, reading a book, or working together to solve an issue. Whenever I see them together in harmony, it legitimately makes my heart sing. It’s pure joy. It seems trivial but these small moments contribute to building strong sibling bonds.
Another thing I do is remind my children that they are siblings and each other’s best friends. I let them know that friends come and go, but their sibling will be there forever.
How do you cultivate a positive and strong sibling relationship between your children?