8 tips to foster a good relationship between siblings
Parents play a prominent role in the relationship between siblings. Their influence can be very positive when they mediate conflicts, create a climate of communication in the family, foster trust and the development of values such as tolerance and empathy.
In contrast, when parents treat their children differently by varying the amounts of positive affect, responsibility, discipline ... sibling relationships are likely to be more contentious and less enjoyable because children often see these differences as unfair.
The relationship between siblings is considered a natural laboratory for children to learn to interact with their peers and develop an understanding of social relationships with other family members, but it is vitally important that parents have an equal, resolution attitude of conflicts to regulate emotions and relations between brothers.
8 tips to foster a positive relationship between siblings
It is often difficult for parents to manage the relationship their children have with each other. The therapist Àngels Ponce offers eight useful tips with which to help foster a good relationship between siblings.
1. Avoid comparing. Value the attitude and skills of each of the brothers at the time, but never compare them. Each one must be recognized and loved for what he is, without comparisons. Many times we do not realize it, but they are there when we comment that one is more (whatever) than the other or less (whatever) than the other. It may seem trivial to us, but for them it is not and it hurts.
2. Create a climate of collaboration at home. Try to find activities in which everyone collaborates. Teach them that they can have common goals. For example, play something together. Even if one of the children has a disability, they may need some help at first, but they are sure to find something they can do as a team.
3. Devote the same time and attention to one as to the other. Much of the sibling rivalry has to do with attention. Try to be aware of it and do not focus on one of them because it is smaller, or because you have a disability. Maybe one of them claims less, but also needs it, do not dedicate only the time "you have left".
4. Everyone is special. Sometimes it is tempting to tell your children that you love them equally, but the reality is that they do not want to hear that. What they want to know is that you love them in a special way, not equally.
5. Leave your own space. Try to have moments of play and complicity alone, without the supervision of adults. In this way you encourage them to share experiences, to become accomplices, to take care of each other or to solve their rivalries. Sometimes it is better not to get involved in their things so they can learn together.
6. Encourages communication and listens at home. We can explain to children that they must respect their turn to talk, that they can not interrupt a conversation to get attention, but it is much more effective if parents are their model. Communicating also means sharing joys, problems and experiences. Do not hide situations that have to do with each of them.
7. Accept the conflict, do not repress it. Sibling conflict is an inevitable element of family life. It is important to help them understand that it is normal to get angry and irritated from time to time, even with the people we love, without meaning that we care less. That will help them not to feel guilty just for being angry. Then you can help them find positive ways to express their feelings and resolve their differences. Although it is much easier to act to resolve the conflict, it is more effective to let them resolve it. In addition, this prevents us from positioning ourselves in favor of one (usually the weakest) and against another. The best intervention is to find a way to support the two, recognizing their feelings and inviting them to reconciliation, although they may need time to do so.
8. Listen to their complaints and recognize what worries them. It is important to listen to complaints against siblings and not throw them away, even if one of them has a disability. Simply listening to the child when he says he feels envious, or is angry or hurt with his brother reduces his resentment because he realizes that you are supporting him. Your role is mediator, listening to the version of each brother and making both feel understood.
In short, it is everyone's task to harmonize this lasting and close relationship. Listening, dialoguing and accepting the qualities, limitations and concerns of each member of the family.
Àngels Ponce. Mindfulness instructor for families and family therapist