3 Ways to Foster Healthy Sibling Relationships

“Only ten more days,” our oldest daughter gave us a countdown every morning. Finally, day zero arrived. After we finished breakfast, I told her, “Get your shoes on. It’s time to go.”

Our two younger children responded, “Wait, we want to go too! Can we come?” I assumed they’d want to stay home. Appointments are typically dull and long, and I thought they’d have more fun at home with my husband. But they begged to come with us.

After a year-long wait, our oldest daughter had her appointment to get the palette expander removed. She couldn’t wait to chew gum and eat all the gummies, and her siblings couldn’t wait to celebrate with her!

As we all drove to the orthodontist, my heart melted a bit. My kids wanted to celebrate this significant moment in their sister’s little life. How precious is that! My husband and I have intentionally built their relationship over the years, and while there are certainly moments of conflict, at the end of the day, our kids love each other. They’ve learned to flourish in their friendship.

You can help your kids build healthy sibling relationships too.

As moms, we have the privilege of setting the atmosphere of our homes. God has given us the unique task of creating a nurturing, loving environment where relationships flourish. Of course, there will be sibling fights. That’s natural when you spend a lot of time with someone, but as parents, we can be intentional about helping our children get along, support one another, and cherish each other’s hearts.

Encourage kindness.

One of the best ways to encourage connection and love between siblings is to involve them in the small things. For example, when we tuck our preschooler in at night, our older kids are part of the routine, and they have been since she was born! If someone forgets to say goodnight, she asks for them to say goodnight to her. It sounds simple, but inviting them into the bedtime routine is a great way to foster love for each other.

Find ways they can do tasks and routines together to grow sibling relationships. Kids can help each other, and these simple tasks help children build a lasting bond. Yes, it may be easier to do it yourself, but encouraging your children to help each other makes them better friends and kinder human beings.

Find ways to play together.

When your children have significant age differences, finding activities that both children want to play can be difficult. A similar challenge arises with children of different sexes.

In our family, our daughter loves all things fancy and LEGO. On the other hand, our son loves to battle anything and everything (cars, balloons, spoons, whatever.). Thankfully, they’ve found ways to all play together with a bit of help from mom and dad.

Take a minute to brainstorm activities that all of your children love. Our kids enjoy being outside, creating with Play-Doh, and coloring together. An eight-year-old and a two-year-old can both color. They may be at different levels of ability, but there are ways for kids of all stages to play together!

Use discernment.

Often, when we push ideas on our children, they don’t like it! In turn, they may even do the opposite of what we recommend. When building healthy sibling relationships, be aware of your child’s feelings and use discernment before you act.

Suppose your children keep getting on each other’s nerves. Ask yourself: Have they had enough of each other? Sometimes, a little alone time is all they need to stop fighting. As a parent, I consider my children’s personalities and gauge their feelings when tensions arise. When kids explode at each other or complain and moan about playing together, we should pause and think through the situation to gain wisdom on how to respond.

In parenthood, you can set up opportunities for your kids to play together, but if they aren’t feeling it, that is okay, too. Don’t push it. You can do other indirect things to cultivate healthy relationships instead.

Have you considered how to help your kids flourish in their sibling relationships? Take time today to pause and ask God how you can nurture their friendships. Siblings are forever friends.

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