It’s every parents wish to have their kids become best friends. The moment you find out your pregnant with your second child, thoughts of your two kids playing together run through your head. In reality, friendship can take awhile to form. Feelings of jealousy, competition, and biding for attention can sometimes triumph. Helping your children create a meaningful, lifelong friendship can be challenging, following these tips may aide in the process.
Let them fight. I know it sounds crazy, but always being the referee during arguments deters your children from negotiating and managing conflict. Similar to any relationship, learning to communicate and compromise is essential for a healthy relationship. As a parent, always listen to both sides but allow your children time to figure out solutions on their own.
Allow alone time. Many parents have a misconception that your children need to be constantly together in order to create a strong bond. For many kids, being alone helps them rejuvenate. As the old saying goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Playing alone can help your children realize playing together is way more fun.
Alone time with mommy. Attention is the culprit for most of children’s jealousy. Every child wants their caregiver’s undivided attention and love all the time, and may feel threatened by their parents love for their sibling. If possible, planning a parent and child day-out once a month may be exactly what your child needs. Your child will love not having to bind for a parent’s attention, and will really cherish this special time. It doesn’t need to be a full outing if that seems unrealistic. Create separate nighttime routines by reading to each child individually in their room before bed. Take turns coloring, playing a game, or reading with each child for 10 minutes at a time per day.
Establish family traditions. Family traditions allow children to create meaningful memories together. Family traditions are often routine-based which help children feel a sense of security. Saturday donut morning, family game night, or Christmas cookie bake are some ideas. Your children will anticipate spending time together in a fun, loving atmosphere.
Create a common goal. The best way to establish teamwork is through a mutual goal. Household chores are a great way to encourage teamwork. Walking the dog, raking the leaves, cleaning up the toys are realistic chores children can do together. More exciting goals may include planting an edible garden with mom, building a play-house with dad, or painting a beautiful mural.
Family getaways. Once children are apart from friends and weekly routines, they can truly enjoy one’s company. Getaways do not need to be elaborate or expensive. Children will be thrilled to take a day trip to a nearby town, road trip to the grandparents, or have a “staycation” at a nearby hotel (with a pool of course!).
Discover common hobbies. Even if children don’t play soccer together, board games, or imaginary play that does not mean they don’t have common interests. Observe your children for a day, and figure out an activity or interest they share. Nurture their common interests whether it’s riding bikes, stickers, Paw Patrol, or dancing.
Give suggestions. Sometimes kids don’t play together because they don’t know how. Providing activities can eliminate the difficult planning and allow them to truly enjoy each other. Suggest building a fort, making up a game, or design an obstacle course.
Building sibling friendships may take time and effort, but the rewards can be great. Be realistic with expectations, and remember that sibling revelry is inevitable. If you feel your children are struggling to connect, talking to our certified social worker may be helpful. Contact Lumiere Children’s therapy to schedule an appointment!
Kelly, K. (n.d.). 7 Ways to Help Your Kids Build a Strong Relationship. Retrieved March 10, 2017, from: https://www.understood.org/en/family/siblings/rivalries/7-ways-to-help-your-kids-build-a-strong-relationship#slide-1