While some minor sibling squabbles are unavoidable, you want your children to get along more often than not. Here are some ways you can encourage closeness in your children.
Demonstrate respectful behavior
Having basic respect for one another is the foundation for sibling closeness. You can encourage this respect by showing your children the right way to speak with one another. For example, if they’re in a disagreement about what to watch on family movie night, ask them to let the other person explain their feelings, rather than shouting. As always, modeling this same sort of behavior is key, as you are your child’s main source of information about the world.
Find things they have in common
Even if one child is obsessed with sports and the other is constantly drawing or painting, that doesn’t mean that they can’t find something they have in common. For example, perhaps they have the same favorite food, or both enjoy taking care of the family pet. Observe your children to find shared interests, and encourage them to explore those interests together as much as possible.
Avoid comparisons or labels
While finding common ground can help your children become closer, the opposite is also true. It can be tempting to label aspects of your children’s personalities, such as “the silly one” or “the serious one.” However, this can illuminate the differences between your children. The same can happen when children hear comments like, “Why can’t you eat quietly like your brother?” Focusing on the similarities between your children is more likely to help them foster a close bond.
Allow them to share experiences together
Memories developed as a family are wonderful, but memories your children develop entirely on their own can help to create a connection that’s unique to them. Let your children share “no parents allowed” experiences as much as possible, such as play, private jokes, or even stealing an extra cookie from the jar from time to time.
Don’t force it
While you may have dreamed of your children becoming best friends for life, the reality is that doesn’t always happen. However, that doesn’t mean that your children can’t love each other. The bond between siblings can be complicated and rewarding, and is rarely static. Forcing your children to spend time together doing activities they don’t enjoy, or when they are not in the best mindset to get along, can work against you and breed resentment.
To help your children develop a stronger sibling bond, encourage an atmosphere of compassion, appreciation, and kindness, and celebrate the things they have in common.