What is mom’s role in sibling relationships? How can we promote teamwork or playing together without always dictating the situation?
You want your kids to play together- without fighting. You want your kids to hang out together- without you requiring it. You want them to do something together- but how on earth do we make that happen?
Here are a few practical ideas to try today:
- Limit options. Instead of saying “Go play together” or “Go find something to do”, give choices. Set up certain toys or activities and have your kids choose from no more than 3 options.
- Make it part of the regular routine. Call it sister time, brother time, brother-sister time- you get the idea. It doesn’t have to be long, just do a few minutes each day of sibling time so it’s the norm instead of something new and unusual for your kids.
- Save some of the most fun activities for sibling time. Do one of the BEST toys, games, activities with your sibling. Whatever your kids are into, let them share that fun. You are pairing sibling time with reinforcement with the goal of making sibling time more reinforcing (more fun or desirable) for your kids.
- Provide some positive reinforcement for playing nicely with your sibling. “I love how y’all did ___ together today! Let’s celebrate how well you did with a quick dance party!” Give specific gratitude so they know what behaviors are expected and appreciated. Make your positive reinforcement a quick celebration together- a dance party, dessert after dinner, staying up a few minutes later than usual, watching a short youtube video- anything quick and happy and fun and TOGETHER!
These ideas do involve some work on mom’s part. But the idea is to set up activities and routines BEFORE and then provide positive reinforcement AFTER. During sibling time, the goal is to back off and let them play and interact on their own.
Start small. If your kids don’t really play together now, don’t expect them to spend an hour together every afternoon. Start with 5 minutes. Celebrate it. After many successful 5 minute sibling time hangouts, increase to 7 minutes or 10. Start small and build gradually.
Big picture- make sibling time a fun time in whatever ways you can. Don’t force it. Increase reinforcement, decrease response effort by providing only a few choices and starting with small periods of time.
Inside our 5 Days to Sibling Kindness Challenge, you can get a TON more ideas and resources. We cover things like conflict resolution, gratitude practice, creating acts of kindness in your home, positive reinforcement systems for siblings, and more! If you’re interested, we are starting another round soon so check the link here
What types of activities, toys, or games will you offer as choices for your kids to do together this week? Tell me below.