Top 10 Ways to Build Stronger Sibling Relationships
Siblings can have a strong relationship that goes beyond sibling rivalry and arguments. Creating attachment and connection with your children can happen with a few simple and consistent actions.
Here are my Top 10 Ways to Build Stronger Sibling Relationships in your family.
Take time away from anything artificial in terms of play between siblings. Create a frequent environment that has brothers and sisters outside enjoying what nature and the outdoors can supply and stimulate. It is known that playing outside together fosters a cooperative bond. Imagination is alive and freedom is enjoyed together.
Encourage play that is physical – tag, running games, wrestling, water war, Hide-and-Seek, tug-o-war, tobogganing, etc. Contact brings closeness. Remember to keep play respectful and fun.
Let children from a family challenge Mom and Dad as a team. Play on one side in a board game, competing with parents. Chase Mom and Dad (all kids after them) and capture them, bringing them to a set location. The idea is that brothers and sisters are a “team” together. A good game of soccer with kids against the parents, or another sport. All in good fun!
Celebrate special occasions by placing emphasis on surprising and making the sibling happy. Birthday, Christmas, Easter...presents, home-made card, a song, a poem, a drawing, etc. Get your children to invest in the other.
Create opportunities to serve each other. Brother does sister’s chore. Sister is paired with sister as a helper at some task. Older brother reads to younger brother. The idea is to build the idea of taking care of each other and looking out for the other. Investment through some sacrifice and generosity builds attachment.
Have family read-aloud time, pray-aloud time, and movie and discussion evenings. Grow memories by doing things together. Build up and enforce universal behaviours of kindness and respect. We let people finish their thoughts by not interrupting. We listen carefully to ideas and stories. By modeling “attentive presence” we build respect and loyalty to one another.
Go camping, on field-trips, on road trips, etc. as a clan. Nobody else but your family. Rotate if possible who sits next to whom. Take advantage of your alone time as a unit, mixing young and old in their experiences. "Joe, please take your little sister’s hand while we go down the hill. Mary, please help Anne with her seatbelt". Talk about things after a visit, one by one...”what did you like best?” ....”what made you laugh most?”..etc.
Create traditions – holidays and celebrations. We always do _________________ this on Christmas Eve. Our family tradition is to let the birthday girl serve cake to each person. It is Clare’s turn to lead prayer, we go in order of age. Solidifying traditions grows family closeness.
Talk about memories of each child and invite older children to share their memories of the younger ones.
Make a family rule that we stick up for each other, especially if we ever see one of ours picked on by another person. “Hey, that is my brother! Leave him alone.” Talk about family loyalty and care.
Celebration and serving together goes a long way in building healthy attachment. As does, playing together - which one could argue falls under celebration. Healthy relationships can be built between siblings and you, as a parent, can play a helpful role in fostering their familial bond.
Facing some struggles with sibling rivalry and tension? I work one on one with parents and children to help re-create attachment and successful relationships in family.