Siblings are notorious for not being able to get along, at least during some point in their lives. Once they grow a bit older, they will probably become the best of friends, but it can be hard to see that if they are constantly bickering with one another at a young age. Luckily for your sanity, there are some ways you can expedite the metamorphosis from siblings who barely tolerate each other to close friends who truly value each other’s company.
Lead By Example
If you are having a small argument with your spouse or one of your children, settle it with them in a calm, cool manner. Show your children what it means to be respectful towards the person you are having a disagreement with, even if you are upset with them. Major arguments with spouses should be resolved when children are not around, but if you are only having a small spat (like over dinner plans), demonstrate to your children how to listen to what the other person has to say, respond in a healthy way, and come to a compromise.
Set Rules and Stick to Them
Let your children know from the time they’re infants that they are expected to treat others with love and kindness. For younger children, it can help to post these “rules” around the house as a reminder. A good craft idea is to have your children draw or paint pictures of what they feel it means to be kind to others, and you can hang these up along with the rules. Then, if you witness one of your children being rude or mean to the other, lightly punish him or her with a timeout or something similar and explain why he or she is being punished.
Let Them Work It Out
Unless an argument becomes physically or verbally abusive between your children, you should try to let them solve their arguments themselves. Stepping in every time they start to fight over something takes away the opportunity for them to build conflict resolution skills. You may still have to serve as a mediator while they’re younger and less articulate, but once they grow older and have the capability to solve their own problems, let them do just that.
Help Them Make Gifts For Each Other
This is one of the main activities that helps your children gain an appreciation for and understanding of the interests and wants of their sibling. The gifts don’t have to be fancy or expensive; have one child make a macaroni necklace for the other if the other child likes jewelry. Or, have your child construct a car out of modeling clay if their sibling enjoys playing with toy cars. The child making the craft will develop new skills and will learn how to consider the sibling's feelings and treat him or her with love and respect.