A brother and sister playing with a friend

5 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Be Friends

If you have a sibling or two then you know how great it is to be close to your brother or sister, and how lucky you are to share that special bond. Since you’ve had this great experience throughout your lifetime, it’s natural to want your own children to have siblings and the invaluable memories that come with them, as well.Siblings don't always become instant friends though. That's where you come in as a parent.

With a little help from you as a teacher, mediator, and good role model, you can increase the chances that your children will be the close friends you’ve always hoped they would be.

Teach each of them how to be a good friend.

In order for your children to make friends with their siblings, they first need to learn what it means to be a good friend. Show them how to respect the opinions of others, how to listen, and how to compromise during a disagreement. Once each of your children knows these skills, they’ll begin to respect each other more and hopefully start to see each other as more than just a “sibling.”

Plan fun activities for them.

You organize playdates for your children and their friends, so why not do the same for only your children? Schedule fun activities for them to do together, like puzzles, educational games, or easy craft projects. Your children need to see that they can have just as much fun with one another as with their other friends, instead of only getting to know their sibling at the dinner table or while brushing their teeth in the morning before school.

Teach them manners.

In addition to showing your children how to be good friends, you also need to teach them manners. Being polite is an important trait when speaking to adults, but it’s just as important when your child is speaking to another child, like their sibling. Let them know that saying mean comments or ignoring the other person is rude, and make sure they know that treating their sibling that way is unacceptable. 

Stress the importance of being friends with each other.

If you have a sibling you are close to, set a good example by making time to see your sibling and treating him or her the same way you treat your other friends, and do it in front of your children. Frequently seeing you spend time with their aunt or uncle will help your children see how amazing it is to be close to a relative later in life. You can also watch movies with your children that highlight the importance of the sibling bond, such as My Sister’s Keeper or Lilo & Stitch.

Give them space.

Of course you want your children to want to spend time with one another, but like any person, each of them still needs their own space. Even if they share a room, be sure to designate one half of the room to each child so they can have their own place to go when they want some alone time. They don’t have to play together every day to be good friends, so don’t worry about it if one of your children wants to perform an activity alone or hang out with other friends every once in a while.