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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cultivating Sibling Friendships

I have often been asked what it is that I do that causes my children to get along so well.  "Don't they ever fight?"  Yes, I can assure you they do fight, just like all siblings.  However, I will admit, overall they do get along amazingly well.  We have very little in the way of sibling rivalry.  I can probably count on one hand how many times someone has acted out of jealousy towards one of the others. 
To be perfectly honest though, I don't know if it is a result of parenting, or just their personalities.  I personally think it is probably a little bit of both.  The following are some of the things we have done.  Maybe it will prove to be helpful to you. 
 When we found out I was pregnant with Buzz, Perry had just turned 2 years old.  People told me not to bother talking to him about the baby because he wouldn't understand anyway.  I didn't believe that was true.  As my baby bump grew, I encouraged him to talk to his new sibling, all the while talking to him about the changes that would be happening in our home.  I made sure to tell him that this baby was so lucky to have HIM as a big brother.  He beamed at these words every time he heard them.  When Buzz was born, my parents brought Perry to the hospital to meet his new brother.  I pulled my then 2 1/2 year old son up onto the hospital bed with me and hugged him while someone else cooed over the new baby.  I helped him to hold his new baby brother, and talked to him again about the change to our lives.  He excepted his new brother with pride, telling anyone that would listen that he was a big brother.
  We continued to do this prep every time I was pregnant.  Each time preparing them for the upcoming changes, telling them the new baby was lucky to have them, and paying individual attention to them. 

Once the new baby arrived, we made sure to have some one on one time with each of our children.  Sometimes it was as simple as having them help one of us by going to the store, helping me to make dinner or reading them a book.  Of course, we went out of our way to say, "I love you" to them as well.  I am sure they are so sick of hearing it, but I know they don't doubt it at this point.
We encouraged them to embrace their role as older sibling by allowing them to help out with things like feeding the baby, changing diapers (handing us wipes and diapers or entertaining the baby), or picking out the babies clothing. 
Yes, sometimes their help can create a mess, but for me it is worth it to see my kids bonding. It gives the older children a sense of responsibility towards the new baby. It also distracts them from thinking that mommy and daddy only have time for the new baby.

We encourage them to play together, often joining in the fun with them.  The older ones love to entertain the younger ones, read to them, and teach them new things.  I should also mention that we don't allow them to be disrespectful to each other.  As soon as we hear anything remotely unkind, we quickly correct it verbally, and then with punishment if need be.

They are all the best of friends, and love each other deeply.   It gives me great joy to see how they love and care for each other.  Always looking out for each other and including each other in all they do.   I don't know if it will last through the teen years, but I pray that it will.  What have you done with your children to strengthen the sibling bond? 

Thanks for stopping by today,
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  1. When #3 was born, she "talked" to her big brother and sister...communicating with them before she could even smile. It helped. :)

    Our two oldest are not close...though Lego Love does help!

    1. Annette,
      I think, given your children's health history, that it is understandable that they would bond a little later. I do agree, finding a common interest is a great way to get siblings to bond! My kids all love lego's too!

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