Sibling Love (teaching kids to get along and love each other)

Hi friends!  Thanks for the sweet comments on my craft cupboard post!  That was a fun one for me.  (As all organizing posts tend to be!)  Today I am finally addressing a question that has popped up so many times.  Questions that are all similar to these:

How do you raise your girls to be so sweet to each other?  Is there anything you did in particular when they were really little that ensured they would be so close and get along so well?


Your girls are darling!  Do they fight with each other?  How do you help them be such good friends?

If you’ve read my blog for a while you know that my two girls are thick as thieves.  I have loved getting  asked this question because it has really made me stop and think – what am I doing that has helped to create such a great relationship between my girls?  My girls have completely different personalities (as most siblings do!) and yes – they do fight (as all siblings do!).  Obviously it helps that they are close in age and share a lot of the same interests, but I do think that there are things you can do as a parent to help foster and encourage loving relationships between your kids.  Here are a few things I’ve done that I believe has helped my girls become the inseparable duo that they are today.  :)

1-  Keep a low key schedule with lots of down time for your kids to play with each other.  As much as I love to socialize and to be out and about, I also crave down time every day.  I love to be home with all of my kids home with me.  Quiet family time.  I need it so that I can stay on top of my house and things that are important to me.  My kids need it so that they can spend quality, uninterrupted time together.  No TV.  No play dates.  No running around from one activity to another.  Just time at home to be creative and play.  My girls spend SO much time at home with each other.  They have become each other’s best friend simply because I have given them no other option!  :)

2 - Teach your children how special sibling relationships are.  I tell my girls all the time how lucky they are to have each other.   Another way that I reinforce this is through my scrapbooks and photo albums.  For Valentines day a couple of years ago I made my girls a photo book called “Sisters” (you can see the whole book here)

This book is so simple and was easy to make.  Just pictures of them and little tidbits about how close they are and all of the things they love to do together.  We read this book often and it is a constant reminder to them of how special their relationship is.  This is one example of a visual way to teach siblings that they are lucky to have each other.  We also talk about our relationships.  Sometimes at dinner I’ll ask my kids random questions about their day and about each other.  For example:  “Ellie – what is one thing you love about Addison?” … oh I love that about her too!”  or “Addison, did you get to see Ellie at school today? … I bet that was fun!”

3 – When your kids do fight, teach them how to compromise and work it out together.  We talk A LOT about compromise at our house.  I am always saying to my girls “what can we do that will be fair for everyone?”  or “How can you two work this out together?”  Then I give them a chance to come up with the answer.  Often with a little prompting, I can get them to solve their own disagreements.  If not, I quickly solve things for them by saying that if they don’t stop fighting we will be done playing and move on to our chores or bedtime.  If they are fighting over a certain toy, I tell them that if they can’t work something out that is fair, the toy will be taken away and neither of them will get to play with it.  That usually does the job.  :)

4 – Use behavior charts to help encourage positive attitudes towards each other and no fighting.  Not long ago I shared my star behavior charts which have always been a huge motivator for my girls to have positive attitudes towards each other and to not fight.  Having something set up like this where siblings are rewarded for being kind to each other and not fighting is a great way to encourage your kids to get along.

5 – Give positive praise when you see your kids getting along and being kind to each other.  This one is HUGE!  Positive reinforcement is such a powerful tool.  I look for opportunities all the time to praise my girls for getting along or being kind to each other.  I’ll say things like “Ellie, I love the way you are playing so nicely with Addison and letting her use your doll.  What a good big sister you are.”  Or “Addison, that was such a sweet thing to say to Ellie.  I bet that made her feel so happy!”  Comments like this always make my girls smile.  They feel special and proud of themselves and it encourages them to continue to do nice things for each other in the future.

6 – Teach by example.  I am really close to my siblings and my kids have definitely picked up on this.  I tell them stories all the time about things we did together and how much fun we had with each other when we were little.  My girls also see that I prioritize spending time with them now.  When my sister had her baby and I flew out to visit and help, I explained to my girls that they will do things like that for each other when they get older.  Teach your kids that no matter what, siblings are always there for each other.  
(me and my siblings)

Seeing the way my kids love each other is one of my favorite things about being a mom. 

Sibling love. 
 Nothing quite compares.  :)
I would love to hear from you!  
Any other tips for teaching your kids to love each other and get along?  

Comments

  1. says

    I have 2 girls who are 15 months apart, and even though they’re only 1 and 2 years old, I’m so excited for how much they love and adore each other already! :) When I see your girls so close and a few years on, I’m so grateful that mine are so close in age, and can hopefully be such wonderful friends like yours are!! Thanks for the tips! :)

  2. Anonymous says

    Hi Erin! I so agree with you about the downtime. I have always loved being at home with my kids (6 and 3)I remember after having Timothy and everyone trying to get me into mothers groups and social outings, I just didn’t want to go, not because I was down but because I love being at home (I do like to be social sometimes though!) I really believe it has helped my kids’ relationship and also helps with tantrums etc Downtime can be a battle with so many things always happening but for me it is definitely the way to go! Love all those gorgeous pics! Emma in Aus

  3. says

    Hi Erin – I just had a baby three weeks ago, my second boy, and I look forward to creating some of this sibling bonding in my house as well. Thanks for the encouragement!

  4. Samantha says

    Hi Erin,
    What a great post! It’s so wonderful that your girls are so loving towards each other! I have two girls too (3 yrs & 9 mths) – I hope that they will share the same closeness that your girls do!
    Samantha
    P.S I posted about trying to find the coupon folder here in Australia last week….I found out that Staples is here in Oz but unfortuntately not the Martha Stewart range..boo hoo! :-(( So I trotted off to Officeworks which I guess is like our equivalent of Staples and found a coupon folder … only disappointing this is that it is about twice the width as yours so not too handy to carry around…BUT I did get excited putting on the little labels for each section. Now my wallet is much lighter without all those receipts and coupons! Thanks for the idea!

  5. Anonymous says

    How sweet! You girls are beautiful! I have a question, since the girls have such a close bond where does Kole fit in the mix? Lots of times I hear from other moms that their kids are like this until they send them to school. Then, all the “you can’t play with us” and that sort of thing starts. How do/are you going to help prevent that. It’s wonderful to see sisters have such a great relationship. You have such a beautiful family, keep up the great work! :) -Carly in AZ

  6. says

    I could not agree more with you Erin! My girls are now almost 19 and 22, and close. My girls learned over the years that “friends will come and go, but sister’s are forever.”

  7. says

    I think you need to add another # to your list. And I know my comments are never too serious but I really think that your relationship with your sister has had a profound affect on your expectations for your girls. I am guessing that you speak often and fondly of your sister and shared memories since you do so on your blog. I also LOVE watching my boys and their relationships. It can be alarming at times to realize they can even sometimes supersede the parental bond. oh my!!

  8. Jane Carden says

    Erin, your blog is my most favorite of all! I absolutely love reading it every day – you have a wonderful family, and I love reading about them and seeing your pictures!

  9. says

    My girls are 8 and 12 and we work on their relationship daily. The love they have for one another is so special. This is not to say that there aren’t some cross words spoken, but they truly care about each other.

    I always loved having two older sisters and I love the bond we have. I want the same for my girls. Your list was perfect and I just kept nodding as I read it.

    Keep up the good work. Love your blog!

  10. says

    What an interesting post! I get asked this question all the time too. I have one girl age 7 and one boy age 4. While they are close in age, I feel a lot of it is parenting. The same as you, we have lots of downtime. They are encouraged to read together, play together, sing, dance together. They also share a room, which has brought them a lot closer.

    People ask me all the time, your kids are so good what do you do? Ha! Simply put, mean and disrepectful words are not allowed in our family. If and when they fight, they are to ALWAYS to hug each other, apologize and ask forgiveness. I think that alone teaches them that they deserve to be treated with kindness and respect in all areas of life.

    But, yes my children are known to sleep holding each other’s hands, pray for each other at night and basically giving each other LOTS of hugs and kisses. Love that part of motherhood, it’s the BEST!!!

  11. says

    my boys are 14 months apart in age and very opposite in personality. Because of this they are BEST friends and rarely fight. What we struggle with is that my daughter is always odd man out. I need to read up on how to get her included. It breaks my heart.

  12. Paula O says

    great advice and tips!!! My kids are boy 7 and girl 2..so a bit of an age gap..i struggle finding things they both like and can do..but more and more they are playing together..she is learning how to spin Ninjago’s!! but my boy is a sweet big brother..and i just encourage that he is his sisters protector and teacher and he takes his job seriously :) If they upset each other I always have them say sorry, I love you and a give hug. I am loving watching their relationship form as my girl gets bigger. A good reminder to always positively reinforce the getting along times! thanks for that!

  13. Dina says

    what a post! I always wonder how they play well but never ask you about that. so happy to hear my unspoken questions. My little ones are close in age 3 years and 1 year old but in a pair of boy and girl. Hopefully they will play along.

  14. says

    I think its great that your kids get along so well.
    I have one boy he’s 13 & my daughters 10. They get along great, I often have people say how well they get along, My son takes great care of his little sister & watches out for her & she really looks up to him. Yes, from time to time they will argue, but its very rare.
    Theres nothing better than watching my kids love each other & be kind to each other :)

  15. says

    Thanks everyone! So happy to hear so many of you have the same situation with your kiddos.

    Kathleen – you’re right! I’ll have to go back and add that they have the example of me and my siblings. I agree that helps too (and yes – I talk about me and my sister all the time). You’ve read my blog for so long and know me so well that you could write it for me. :)

    Carly in AZ – You know – I’m interested to see how Kole fits into the mix as he gets older. So far the girls are great to take care of him and include him so hopefully that will always be the case!

  16. says

    Did you and Carly always get along really well, even when you were teenagers??

    Ellie and Addie are adorable together. They will be forever grateful for each other as they get older.

  17. says

    Wow. When is your book coming out — such great pointers. It is so true that nothing warms a mom’s heart like her kids loving and supporting each other.

  18. says

    I love the picture of them with all the dolls lined up, that is so cute! I have a girl and 2 boys and I hope my boys will play together like your girls do!

  19. says

    Thanks everyone! Such sweet comments. :)

    Shari – Carly and I totally fought when we were teens! I’m so NOT looking forward to that stage with my girls!

    MML – Good question! I don’t have set rules for TV (other than that we don’t watch it in the morning on school days – slows us down too much!). I just don’t let my girls watch too much during the day. I’ll turn on a show or movie for them when we need some down time, but then we turn it off for the rest of the day. We haven’t had to deal with computer issues yet because my girls are still at the age where they would rather play with each other than be on the computer. :)

  20. says

    i totally agree with the whole down time thing. i learned early on that scheduling nap times and down time, when they were young made for happy kids. i think to often parents entertain their kids instead of spending time with them.

  21. says

    Erin, your girls are so cute individually but as a little buddy-duo they are beyond cuteness!

    I agree with the points you make about raising them to be close. I think a lot of the time if you have an expectation, kids meet it without you having to make a fuss. So the fact that in your own family the siblings are close and in your household the girls have to play together… they’ll just expect it to work out.

    My girls are 5 and 2 and they’re really close, its really sweet. I think I especially like it because I know that the way they treat each other is the way that we treat them and its just sort of how they think it should be, and I love that. I love it when I give something to one of the girls and they automatically go and give half to the other sister. Their world is just full of love and cuddles and respect for each other.

  22. says

    I was googling to find some books on teaching sibling love and I found this post! I will be book marking it. Very good reminders for me. I really like make your own siblings book idea!

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