Want to help siblings get along? Oh my gosh, don’t we all? This is one thing I didn’t realize I was doing. It’s going to take you by surprise…
Which sibling were you?
Were you the good one? The baby? The troublemaker?
The older and responsible one?
The young one who needs everything done for her?
Regardless of which one you were, you probably knew your role. And probably, now I’m just guessing here…
You didn’t stray away from it very much.
And here’s the killer… that role probably caused a lot of animosity between you and your siblings.
It may also be a major friction point between your kids. If you can downplay your kids’ roles, you can help siblings get along MUCH BETTER!
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Lately, I’ve become a huge fan of the sibling rivalry book “Siblings Without Rivalry: How to help your children live together so you can live too” by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish. (Seriously, you need it!)
But I realized that I was putting my kids into roles!
Wondering how to stop sibling fighting? Check your parenting for this.
How do we get our family roles?
As parents, it brings us a bit of comfort to think that we have our kids figured out.
It’s how the human brain works. There’s no shame about that.
I used roles for most of the kids in the my fifth grade classroom. It helped me quickly predict behavior and make the world a nice, orderly place.
Or did it?
Let me give you an example from my own family: I’ve always thought of my daughter as pretty verbally advanced for her age.
Friends, family, even complete strangers told us how even from the age of 3, our daughter spoke as if she was a lot older
When my son came along and barely said 2 words by 2 years old, I FREAKED OUT.
I thought something was wrong.
But then I looked for ways he excelled and I found that he had a great spatial sense.
He put together puzzles by himself.
He liked to take things apart and figure out how they worked.
My daughter’s has the strong verbal skills and my son has the strong spatial skills.
Now, what’s wrong with this? I’m recognizing each child’s strengths. Everything should be golden.
You see, my kid’s strengths are so solidified in my brain that they influence MY behavior.
When my daughter struggles putting something together or doing something physical, I immediately jump in to help her.
When I think of an activity to do with my son, I always suggest puzzles rather than reading a book.
Nothing is wrong with any one of these reactions. But with me, I noticed it was becoming a pattern of behavior.
Suddenly I start telling people, my daughter is the reader and my son has the puzzle skills.
But neither of them should hold a corner on the reading and puzzle market in the family.
Sibling Rivalry Solution: Rethink the Roles
Having a role to play in a family puts a ton of pressure on kids.
But it’s not the pressure that creates the sibling rivalry…
It’s the resentment.
If you’re known as the star student in your family, you may succeed academically at much higher levels than your siblings. But how do your siblings feel?
Even if they have no desire to excel in the classroom, they may resent you for how much time and attention you’re given by your parents.
And that’s when the fighting starts. They’ll do stuff to claim more of your parent’s attention.
This is what we do to our kids relationships when we place them into roles.
In your house, there is a no longer an older one, a baby, a more responsible one, a bully, a victim, a beautiful one, a nice one, a smart one or any other title kids may be known as.
No more! If we want to encourage strong sibling relationships, we need to remove as many restrictions as possible.
To help siblings get along, here’s how to remove each of your children from his or her role.
When you see your kids in roles
It is incredibly hard to break a habit. But when you remove a child’s role, that’s exactly what you need to do.
You must find a way to show your child that you think more of him or her than whatever she’s proved in the past.
Remember how I told you how I see one kid as verbally talented and one as spatially talented? I caught myself this weekend at the park.
You see, my son was having trouble climbing a boulder at the playground. He placed his foot on a ledge, then slipped. Placed his other foot on a hold, slipped again.
He started crying.
My immediate reaction was, “You can figure this out yourself. I know you can.”
And I did, in my gut, I felt that he had such a fantastic understanding of puzzles and strong spatial ability that this rock would be conquered.
Guess what? After a couple more times, he did.
Before I started patting myself on the back, my nine-year-old daughter sauntered over to an even BIGGER boulder.
She put her foot up, slipped. And she immediately asked for help.
I put down my coffee, stood up…
AND THEN SAT MY BUTT RIGHT BACK DOWN.
What was I doing and what was I showing my daughter?
You see. I identified with her since I also had problems with spatial puzzles when I was younger. I struggled to figure how pieces fit together.
So, I asked for help and someone usually stepped in and assisted.
And guess what… I still pull out the “my poor spatial ability” card whenever my husband reloads the dishwasher.
No, no way. She’s going to gain the confidence herself. (And she can take over loading dishes into the dishwasher!)
I sipped my cold brew and told her, “You can figure out how to get to the top of the rock. I believe in you.”
My stomach tensed as she argued with me. No, she insisted, no she couldn’t.
And, oh my goodness, I walked away…
Well… within minutes, she threw off her flip flops and climbed to the top of the boulder in her bare feet.
Kids can do so much more than WE think they can. Once we as parents stop categorizing their abilities into their roles, we will see them reach full potential.
We can help siblings get along. It is under our power as parents.
By understanding the roles we have in our own family and then actively working to change them, we can encourage strong sibling relationships by removing this one cause of resentment and jealousy.
You got this mama.