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SIBLINGSANITY
Part of the Dads Matter Workshop Series
Presented by Mike Morency, B.R.E., B.S.W.
Access County Community Support Services
March 26, 2015
Organized by:
•Who is Mike?
•Why do siblings fight?
• Complicating factors
• Conflict by age
•Is it always bad?
•Strategies
• Respond to the crisis
• Reduce the fighting
• Promote positive relationships
AlittleaboutMike
• Degrees in Religious
Education and Social Work
• Director of Children & Youth
Services for ACCESS
• Youngest of 7 children
• Father of 4 (aged 13 – 20)
in a blended family
WhyDoSiblingsFight?
• Jealousy - Competition
• Temperament
• Role dominance
• Gender differences
• Different developmental stages
• Modelling and family condition
ComplicatingFactors
• Disability
• Large age discrepancies
• Blended families
• External influences
SiblingConflictbyAge
0-2 years
• Fights over objects
• Very frustrated if something they want is taken
away
• Struggles with taking turns
• Does not understand rules
• Does not have the ability to reason with other
children
• More likely to use physical acts to show
anger.
3-4 years
• Sibling rivalry can be at its worst when both
children are under 4.
• Just starting to learn to share.
SiblingConflictbyAge
5-7 years
• Starting to master skills
• Better at resolving issues
• Siblings close in age compete more
• Strong concept of fairness and equality
8-12 years
• Competition heats up -- worst between
ages 8 and 12.
• Protest verbally more
• Much more social and engaged in group
activities that involve cooperation,
negotiation and compromise.
OlderChildvs.YoungerChild
• Older child may feel threatened,
embarrassed, or "shown up" by
the younger one as they develop
more skills and talents
• Younger child may become
jealous about the privileges his
big brother or sister gets. Also
the older sibling's
competitiveness and aggression
can come as a surprise to the
younger child and lead to
hostility.
ImportanceofSiblingRelationships
• A sibling is a constant companion who can provide love,
acceptance, and support for a child for the rest of his/her
life.
• Training ground for future conflict
• Teaches kids the give and take of relationships
• Source of emotional security
• Helps build resilience
Whenitbecomebullying
• Is there a pattern?
• Is one child getting “ganged up” on?
• Is it back and forth or one way?
• Is there an imbalance of power?
• Foul / Cutting insults
• Physical aggression
• Intentional damage of property
RespondingtoConflict
• When possible – DON’T Get Involved
• Encourage them to resolve the crisis
themselves
If Necessary – for safety
• Separate them until they are calm
• Don’t try to figure out who was wrong
• Aim for a “Win-Win” situation
• Wait for emotions to settle before
discussing
• Remember the goal is for them to
develop skills
ReducingFutureConflict
• Communicate your love with time and attention
• Lose the labels – Don’t compare
• Teach peace practices
• Stay out of it!
• LISTEN to your children
ReducingFutureConflict
• Avoid discipline or shaming in front of other siblings
• Recognize each child’s unique needs
• Teach “Fair is not Equal”
• Anticipate problems and plan
• Hold regular family meetings
• Have FUN together as a family
ReducingFutureConflict
• Identify and remove jealousy
• Don’t force them to be best friends.
• Enforce kindness
• Give them space apart
• Be aware of your internals
TipsandStrategies
• Set a clear timeline for privileges
• Schedule access to “things”
• Reward working together
• Tire them out!
• Make playing together a privilege
ImprovingSiblingRelationships
• Give them a role
• Give them safe space
• Encourage mutual interests
• Don’t let wounds go untreated
• Future-cast
ImprovingSiblingRelationships
• Share positive sibling stories
• Encourage cooperation
• Ask THEM
• Help them establish boundaries
• Praise them
ResourcesforDads
• www.allprodad.com
• www.dadcentral.ca
• www.dadsadventure.com
• www.dadstoday.org
• www.familyfirst.net
• www.fatherhood.org
• www.parentsmatter.ca
• www.newdadmanual.ca
Websites
Books
• The Single Dad's Survival Guide - Mike Klump
• Hold on to Your Kids - Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate
• How to Really Love Your Child - Ross Campbell
• Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should
Know Paperback – Meg Meeker
• Daddy, Stop Talking: And Other Things My Kids Want But Won't Be
Getting - Adam Carolla

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Sibling Sanity - Top tips to reduce conflict and improve relationships.

  • 1. SIBLINGSANITY Part of the Dads Matter Workshop Series Presented by Mike Morency, B.R.E., B.S.W. Access County Community Support Services March 26, 2015 Organized by:
  • 2. •Who is Mike? •Why do siblings fight? • Complicating factors • Conflict by age •Is it always bad? •Strategies • Respond to the crisis • Reduce the fighting • Promote positive relationships
  • 3. AlittleaboutMike • Degrees in Religious Education and Social Work • Director of Children & Youth Services for ACCESS • Youngest of 7 children • Father of 4 (aged 13 – 20) in a blended family
  • 4. WhyDoSiblingsFight? • Jealousy - Competition • Temperament • Role dominance • Gender differences • Different developmental stages • Modelling and family condition
  • 5. ComplicatingFactors • Disability • Large age discrepancies • Blended families • External influences
  • 6. SiblingConflictbyAge 0-2 years • Fights over objects • Very frustrated if something they want is taken away • Struggles with taking turns • Does not understand rules • Does not have the ability to reason with other children • More likely to use physical acts to show anger. 3-4 years • Sibling rivalry can be at its worst when both children are under 4. • Just starting to learn to share.
  • 7. SiblingConflictbyAge 5-7 years • Starting to master skills • Better at resolving issues • Siblings close in age compete more • Strong concept of fairness and equality 8-12 years • Competition heats up -- worst between ages 8 and 12. • Protest verbally more • Much more social and engaged in group activities that involve cooperation, negotiation and compromise.
  • 8. OlderChildvs.YoungerChild • Older child may feel threatened, embarrassed, or "shown up" by the younger one as they develop more skills and talents • Younger child may become jealous about the privileges his big brother or sister gets. Also the older sibling's competitiveness and aggression can come as a surprise to the younger child and lead to hostility.
  • 9. ImportanceofSiblingRelationships • A sibling is a constant companion who can provide love, acceptance, and support for a child for the rest of his/her life. • Training ground for future conflict • Teaches kids the give and take of relationships • Source of emotional security • Helps build resilience
  • 10. Whenitbecomebullying • Is there a pattern? • Is one child getting “ganged up” on? • Is it back and forth or one way? • Is there an imbalance of power? • Foul / Cutting insults • Physical aggression • Intentional damage of property
  • 11. RespondingtoConflict • When possible – DON’T Get Involved • Encourage them to resolve the crisis themselves If Necessary – for safety • Separate them until they are calm • Don’t try to figure out who was wrong • Aim for a “Win-Win” situation • Wait for emotions to settle before discussing • Remember the goal is for them to develop skills
  • 12. ReducingFutureConflict • Communicate your love with time and attention • Lose the labels – Don’t compare • Teach peace practices • Stay out of it! • LISTEN to your children
  • 13. ReducingFutureConflict • Avoid discipline or shaming in front of other siblings • Recognize each child’s unique needs • Teach “Fair is not Equal” • Anticipate problems and plan • Hold regular family meetings • Have FUN together as a family
  • 14. ReducingFutureConflict • Identify and remove jealousy • Don’t force them to be best friends. • Enforce kindness • Give them space apart • Be aware of your internals
  • 15. TipsandStrategies • Set a clear timeline for privileges • Schedule access to “things” • Reward working together • Tire them out! • Make playing together a privilege
  • 16. ImprovingSiblingRelationships • Give them a role • Give them safe space • Encourage mutual interests • Don’t let wounds go untreated • Future-cast
  • 17. ImprovingSiblingRelationships • Share positive sibling stories • Encourage cooperation • Ask THEM • Help them establish boundaries • Praise them
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  • 20. ResourcesforDads • www.allprodad.com • www.dadcentral.ca • www.dadsadventure.com • www.dadstoday.org • www.familyfirst.net • www.fatherhood.org • www.parentsmatter.ca • www.newdadmanual.ca Websites Books • The Single Dad's Survival Guide - Mike Klump • Hold on to Your Kids - Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate • How to Really Love Your Child - Ross Campbell • Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know Paperback – Meg Meeker • Daddy, Stop Talking: And Other Things My Kids Want But Won't Be Getting - Adam Carolla

Editor's Notes

  1. Do you ever wonder why they can’t just get along?!? Let’s face it—no matter how nicely the kids are playing one minute, the next minute might bring tears, and even fights. Sibling rivalry happens in every house with more than one child, and at every age. It’s a common challenge, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy on your sanity. It can be frustrating and upsetting to watch — and hear — your kids fight with one another. A household that's full of conflict is stressful for everyone. Yet often it's hard to know how to stop the fighting, and or even whether you should get involved at all. Most people with siblings can remember an instance where their arguments escalated to inappropriate levels. I recall slamming my older brother's door so hard when we were teenagers that I broke the door frame. Though some sparring is normal, aggression between siblings can have lasting negative effects - so says a new study in the July issue of the journal Pediatrics. According to the study, one-third of the children in a study of more than 3,000 said they were victimized by a sibling at some point in the past year, and the victimised children reported higher levels of anxiety, depression and anger. Other studies have shown that sibling conflict occurs every day for 50 per cent of young children, and 80 per cent of siblings ages 3-17 reported experiencing at least one violent episode with their sister or brother in the year that study evaluated. Despite these numbers, you can take steps to promote peace in your household and help your kids get along. This evening we will look at some of the reasons siblings fight and the importance of sibling relationships. Then I will introduce some strategies to reduce the fighting and promote positive communications in the home.
  2. Share stories of my sibling rivalries: Practical joke campaign Locked in closet (multiple times) Stuffed behind bed My closest friend to this day My kids… drive me nuts Complicated due to being blended family Some alliances are clear Some are a struggle So while I am going to present information from child development experts, I am here to day first and foremost as both a Dad who lives with the conflict and as an adult survivor of sibling conflict. Before I begin however, I want to know if you brought any questions with you so that I can try to address them tonight.
  3. Sibling rivalry is a natural part of growing up and is rooted in each child’s need to overcome feelings of inferiority or insecurity. Often, sibling rivalry starts even before the second child is born, and continues as the kids grow and compete for everything from toys to attention. As such jealousy and competition are the two core factors at play. However, many additional factors affect how well your children get along with each other including: Their temperament or personality Some kids seem to fight more than others. This might be because of their temperaments – inborn parts of their personalities that make them more inclined to act impulsively (without thinking) or aggressively. For example, if one child is laid back and another is easily rattled, they may often get into it. Similarly, a child who is especially clingy and drawn to parents for comfort and love might be resented by siblings who see this and want the same amount of attention. Humans have a naturally aggressive side, and fighting is sometimes a normal expression of this. Some people are quicker to anger than others, or less able to control their angry feelings. It’s not always easy for grown-ups to resolve conflict without resorting to bad behaviour. Imagine how much harder it is for kids. Their perceived role in the family unit Middle children — who might not get the same privileges or attention as the oldest or youngest child in the family — might act out to feel more secure. Older Vs Younger – will discuss in a minute Caregiver Labels – scapegoat, bad child, achiever, needy one Their gender, Children of the same sex might share more of the same interests, but they might also be more likely to compete against each other. My daughters… Their age and developmental stage, Children close in age might battle each other more than children farther apart in age. As kids reach different stages of development, their evolving needs can significantly affect how they relate to one another. The family size, condition, and modeling that occurs. Children in large families are more likely to feel jealous of older or younger siblings as the amount of time which parents have to spend with each child is reduced. Sibling relationships often mirror the condition of cohesiveness within the family. The way that parents resolve problems and disagreements sets a strong example for kids. So if you and your spouse work through conflicts in a way that's respectful, productive, and not aggressive, you increase the chances that your children will adopt those tactics when they run into problems with one another. If your kids see you routinely shout, slam doors, and loudly argue when you have problems, they're likely to pick up those bad habits themselves. Children whose parents are divorced might feel driven to compete for the attention of the parent with whom they live — especially if stepsiblings also live in the home.
  4. There are many additional factors in families that can increase the likelihood of sibling conflict including: Having one or more children with a disability. Sometimes, a child's special needs due to illness or learning/emotional issues may require more of a parents time. Other children in the family will pick up on this and may act out to get attention or out of fear of what's happening to the other child. The siblings without disability can be resentful of the time spent on their brother or sister. They feel that often they are receiving only surface attention, that the parent is not really alert to their needs. Large Age Discrepancies When siblings are separated by 4 or more years the relationship between them can become quite confusing. At times the younger sibling will identify strongly with the older sibling and not understand why they are not allowed to do things their older sibling is allowed to The older sibling may also be placed in a parental or care-giving role creating confusion for both siblings especially as there will be other times when they are just siblings again Blended Families create especially challenging sibling dynamics When each partner enters the marriage with children of their own there is a natural inclination to “favour” or be more attentive to the needs of their own child. The children are quick to pick up on this and label it as favoritism and to be left feeling “rejected.” These confused feelings result in “amped” up jealousy and competition as each child clamours for the favour and attention of both their natural parent and the new step-parent. Additionally, if children come in to the blended family in pairs or groups, they may establish an exclusivity which becomes difficult for the “newcomer” to penetrate. Finally, if a child enters the blend as an only child, they will resent having to share the attention and belongs of the parents with their new siblings. Share some from our story… External Influences – People and situations outside of your home can also impact upon how your children get along. Peers attitudes and comments about a sibling can cause the child to begin to question what they believe about their sister/brother. If friends tease or make fun of the child because of behaviours or characteristics of their sibling, they will begin to resent the sibling. Other family environments – for blended families, when children go through switches in roles and expectations between homes it can create confusion both for the children switching between homes, and the one who remains with the parents. Additionally, feelings of jealousy may crop up when the child’s siblings get presents and experiences at their other parent’s home.
  5. The way kids handle conflict is partly determined by their ages and skill levels. While younger children tend to fight physically, older children are more likely to have verbal arguments. Competitiveness between siblings typically peaks between ages 10 and 15. However, sometimes sibling rivalry can continue well into adulthood. Children aged under 2 years: Toddlers are also naturally protective of their toys and belongings, and are learning to assert their will, which they'll do at every turn. So if a baby brother or sister picks up the toddler's toy, the older child may react aggressively. Struggle with taking turns, and don’t yet understand the reason for rules and instructions don’t have the ability to reason with other children or explain how they feel, so are more likely to use physical acts like pushing to show anger. Children aged 3-4 years are: Sibling rivalry can be at its worst when both children are under 4 years of age -- especially when they are less than three years apart. Children under the age of 4 depend on their parents a great deal and have a very hard time sharing them with siblings. Starting to cooperate, share and take turns – all of which will eventually lead to fewer fights still likely to need support, reminders and positive feedback.
  6. Children aged 5-7 years are: Starting to master skills like sharing, taking turns, compromising and talking through options much better at resolving issues without needing grown-ups to step in, although they still need encouragement. Siblings who are close in age or who have many of the same interests tend to compete more. School-age kids often have a strong concept of fairness and equality, so might not understand why siblings of other ages are treated differently. Children aged 8-12 years (or 8 and UP) Competition between brothers and sisters can heat up as they grow older -- usually at its worst between ages 8 and 12. Tend to protest verbally more than younger children are becoming much more social, and typically engage in group activities that involve cooperation, negotiation and compromise.
  7. The Older Child vs. The Younger Child As the younger child grows older and develops more skills and talents, the older child may feel threatened, embarrassed, or "shown up" by the younger one. This can lead to unnecessary competition or aggression from the older child. Meanwhile, the younger child tends to become jealous about the privileges his big brother or sister gets as he or she gets older. An older sibling's competitiveness and aggression that arises as the younger one grows and develops can come as a surprise to the younger child and lead to returned hostility. It's important not to get too upset when your children are jealous of each other, especially if the older child is a preschooler. It takes time for a youngster to learn that his parents do not love him any less because they have another child to love.
  8. “Negative sibling relationships are strongly linked to aggressive, anti-social, and delinquent behaviors, including substance use,” said Mark Feinberg, research professor in the Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development. “On the other hand, positive sibling relationships are linked to all kinds of positive adjustment, including improved peer and romantic relationship quality, academic adjustment and success, and positive well-being and mental health.” Sibling relationships provide the child with: a constant companion who can provide love, acceptance, and support for a child for the rest of his/her life. A training ground for future conflict Opportunities to learn about the give and take of relationships - siblings play a much more influential role in developing “street smarts” or understanding and negotiating “playground politics” than parents. A source of emotional security The opportunity to build resilience
  9. A recent study, published in September 2014, spanning about 7,000 people in the United Kingdom, revealed that those bullied by brothers or sisters were more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and self harm than those who weren’t bullied. How is bullying different from sibling rivalry? How can you tell the difference? When is too much? The way to figure out if fighting between siblings is reaching the level of bullying is to ask yourself: Is there a pattern Is one kid (or group of kids) on a campaign to make another kid miserable? Is the aggression chronic and one-way, as opposed to mutual? Is there an imbalance of power… much older child or child who is in parental role Foul Insults - Foul or harsh insults are the common warning signs of sibling bullying. Insults can do more damage to a child than physical abuse. Harsh insults can kill a child’s self-esteem, causing them to have issues later on in life. Common insults of sibling bullying include, “I wish you were dead”, “Mom and Dad hate you”, “you’re the stupidest person I know”, and “you will be a failure all of your life.” Physical Aggression Children can become extremely frustrated because their emotions are still new to them, and they may not know how to sit down and discuss the things that are bothering them. Instead, they lash out at their siblings which is a form of physical aggression. This form of aggression can be categorized as: Biting, Hair pulling, pushing, Scratching, Kicking, Hitting. Damage/Destruction Many children have been known to throw things and have tantrums, but there is a line that should not be crossed. Damage to anything or pure destruction can result in one sibling destroying another sibling’s favorite item, such as a toy, or an item that is similar. Sometimes pets are targeted as a way to hurt their sibling. "Fortunately, most kids do bounce back. But it's important to look out for the kids who have a harder time doing that.“ So: No need to freak out. Look out for your more psychologically fragile offspring, but don't break up every argument over Legos.
  10. While it may be common for brothers and sisters to fight, it's certainly not pleasant for anyone in the house. And a family can only tolerate a certain amount of conflict. So what should you do when the fighting starts? Well meaning parents sometimes make the situation worse rather than helping their children learn to resolve conflict for themselves. If the problem is small, allow your kids to resolve conflicts on their own. Don’t try to interfere until the problem turns really serious. Whenever possible, don't get involved. Step in only if there's a danger of physical harm. If you always intervene, you risk creating other problems. The kids may start expecting your help and wait for you to come to the rescue rather than learning to work out the problems on their own. There's also the risk that you — inadvertently — make it appear to one child that another is always being "protected," which could foster even more resentment. By the same token, rescued kids may feel that they can get away with more because they're always being "saved" by a parent. If you're concerned by the language used or name-calling, it's appropriate to "coach" kids through what they're feeling by using appropriate words. This is different from intervening or stepping in and separating the kids. Even then, encourage them to resolve the crisis themselves. If you do step in, try to resolve problems with your kids, not for them. When getting involved, here are some steps to consider: Separate kids until they're calm. Sometimes it's best just to give them space for a little while and not immediately rehash the conflict. Otherwise, the fight can escalate again. If you want to make this a learning experience, wait until the emotions have died down. Don't put too much focus on figuring out which child is to blame. It takes two to fight — anyone who is involved is partly responsible. Next, try to set up a "win-win" situation so that each child gains something. When they both want the same toy, perhaps there's a game they could play together instead. Remember, as kids cope with disputes, they also learn important skills that will serve them for life — like how to value another person's perspective, how to compromise and negotiate, and how to control aggressive impulses. Listen to each child, encouraging “I feel” statements as they tell their story. Then, without placing blame or taking sides, ask them to come up with some solutions. If no one is able to come up with a workable resolution, suggest a few yourself, and help them reach an agreement. If your kids still can’t agree, it’s time to put them “all in the same boat.” Hand down a consequence, for instance, “Either you can take turns with the game, or I will put it away for the rest of the day.” Then follow through.
  11. While you can’t stop sibling rivalry entirely, you can reduce its frequency. This means less yelling from the next room, and more peace in your home! The following 16 strategies will help to remove some of the causes of rivalry and minimize the conflict. Communicate your love with time and attention. One of the top reasons kids fight is to gain their parents’ attention—and even negative attention is better than nothing. Plan on giving each child at least 10-20 minutes of positive, individual attention every day, from each parent, and all of a sudden, your kids will learn they don’t have to fight to get you to look their way. Do special activities with each child that reflects his or her interests. Remind your children that you're there for them and they can talk about anything with you. Show and tell your kids that, for you, love is not something that comes with limits.   Lose the labels - Don't compare. Avoid pointing out your children's differences in front of them. Your child might interpret comparison as criticism and may think that he's not as good or as loved as his sibling. When we talk about our “athletic one,” “smartie” or even our “wild child,” we create competition. We also assign roles that they may or may not like. By ditching labels, we give our “not-so-athletic” child a chance to shine even if she’s not a star, the straight-B student the opportunity to be proud of her hard work, and the “wild child” a chance to do the right thing. Simply cheer on positive attributes, such as teamwork, persistence and kindness. Siblings can then root for each other instead of competing for their parents’ approval. Teach Peace Practices. Set ground rules for acceptable behavior. Get their input on the rules — as well as the consequences when they break them. This teaches kids that they're responsible for their own actions, regardless of the situation or how provoked they felt, and discourages any attempts to negotiate regarding who was "right" or "wrong." Train them in conflict resolution, on how to take turns, use “I feel” statements, walk away and control their temper (counting to 10, taking a deep breath, etc.), and you’ll be able to ward off a lot of sibling arguments before they begin. Be a good role, teach your child how to respect others, especially their siblings, and teach them what being a family and a respectful citizen is about.   Stay out of it! Sometimes you just need to butt out. A parent can’t resolve every issue. Sometimes when siblings are fighting, you just need to walk away. In fact, tell them to take their argument outside.  Just make sure nobody takes a golf club to the head. Give them a chance to work it out on their own, and at the same time, you’ll remove the payoff they get from your attention. You may have to step in and settle a spat between toddlers or preschoolers, but older children will probably settle an argument themselves if left alone. If your children try to involve you, explain that they're both responsible for creating the problem and for ending it. Don't take sides. Listen to your children. Being a sibling can be frustrating. Allow your children to vent their negative feelings about each other. Respond by acknowledging their feelings (just not in front of each other). If you have siblings, share stories of your own childhood conflicts. Don’t ignore or downplay a child’s feelings. Even though a child’s feelings might seem trivial or exaggerated, they are real to them in the moment. Validating their feelings lets them know you understand and opens a door for them to consider solutions or ideas you may want them to hear.
  12. Avoid discipline or shaming in front of other siblings — this can cause shame and embarrassment and perpetuate the competitive feelings.   Respect each child's unique needs. Treating your children uniformly isn't always practical. Instead, focus on meeting each child's unique needs. For example, instead of buying both of your children the same gifts to avoid conflict, consider buying them different gifts that reflect their individual interests. Instead of signing up all of your children for soccer or piano lessons, ask for their input. It is important to understand the talents and flaws of your kids. Discover the unique traits of each of your children and nurture them. Teach that “Fair is not Equal.” Help your children understand that sometimes one child needs more than the other. This includes clarifying roles, responsibilities, and appropriate freedoms for certain ages.   Anticipate problems. If your children can't resolve a disagreement by themselves or they routinely fight over the same things, help them devise a solution. For example, if you have young children who have trouble sharing, encourage them to each play with their own toys or plan activities that don't require much cooperation — such as listening to music or playing hide and seek. If your children battle over gadgets, help them create a weekly schedule. Explain the consequences of not following the schedule. Holding regular family meetings to give your children a chance to talk about and work out sibling issues. This also give you the opportunity to repeat the rules about fighting and review past successes in reducing conflicts. Have fun together as a family. Whether you're watching a movie, throwing a ball, or playing a board game, you're establishing a peaceful way for your kids to spend time together and relate to each other. This can help ease tensions between them and also keeps you involved. Since parental attention is something many kids fight over, fun family activities can help reduce conflict. Try to plan regular activities that require your children to work as a team. This will promote cooperation, trust and bonding. There are some great ideas online. Some of the things are family has done include: backyard survivor, Fear factor, baseball, camping, road trips…
  13. Removing jealousy within the home is difficult because a lot of parents are not sure what triggers their child to become jealous. In this situation, the best thing to do is diffuse the jealousy within the home and have a talk with your child and find out what’s bothering them.   Don’t Force them to be best friends. Acknowledge that siblings in perpetual conflict may really not like each other during their present stages of development. Forcing them to be “best friends” can cause more bitterness and resentment. Helping kids develop the skill of “getting along with people you don’t like” is a relationship tool not only for school and the workplace but can also be utilized in families when siblings can’t see the best in each other at the moment. Commit to empathy, compassion, and kindness in your family. It grieves me when my kids are at odds with each other. While I can’t force them to see the best in each other, I can set the standard of “if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all” and hold each of them accountable to it. Give space to the fighting siblings to be apart if needed. Don’t force them to be together if they are constantly fighting when together. If they share a room, consider switching rooms with other siblings or at least giving them a choice to sleep in a different location if changing rooms isn’t an option. Giving teens choices in dealing with their anger or frustration helps them work through it as long it is healthy and not harmful to the overall relationship. Be aware of and deal with your own motives, feelings, and behaviors. Do you exhibit unintended favoritism? Do you respond more gently to one child than another? If one child brings out the worst in you, don’t ignore it, but deal with it for the benefit of your child
  14. Set a Privilege Timetable “You are giving her a cell phone? She is only 10. I had to wait until I was 13!” Siblings remember every detail of what was given to whom and when. Set a timetable for these landmarks and stick to it. If the timetable must be broken, make sure you give a clear and reasonable explanation as to why.   Schedule toy time If your children frequently squabble over the same things (such as video games or dibs on the TV remote), post a schedule showing which child "owns" that item at what times during the week. (But if they keep fighting about it, take the "prize" away altogether.)   Reward program for work together. Consider establishing a program where the kids earn points toward a fun family-oriented activity when they work together to stop battling. Tire them Out A child who’s just run around outside for 30 minutes (or longer!) is much less likely to pick fights with his siblings. Every child needs some sort of physical activity every day. Boredom breeds crankiness and fighting. Make playing together a privilege. When your kids are constantly fighting, fussing, or competing, remove the privilege of playing together.  It becomes a day of boredom, and it’s amazing how relatively quickly it generates new appreciation for one’s siblings.
  15. Allow your older child to help care for the younger one. Helping to feed a baby or change a diaper can strengthen the relationship between siblings. Encourage your child to be proud to be a big brother or big sister. Set aside areas for each child. Give your children -- especially the older one -- her own space. Keep each child's own personal things apart from shared ones. Sometimes kids need time and space to be alone. For instance, your older daughter is in her room talking on the phone with her friends. Her younger sister keeps intruding on her. This will surely cause conflict. Create a safe zone for each child and make sure it’s respected. Make sure kids have their own space and time to do their own thing — to play with toys by themselves, to play with friends without a sibling tagging along, or to enjoy activities without having to share 50-50. Encourage mutual interests and discourage isolation (“Yes, you can play wii, but you must play together”). Don’t let wounds go untreated. Make sure that forgiveness is sought and amends are made as part of your job as relationship triage nurse. Future-cast: talk about the relationship your children will have with each other as adults.
  16. Share childhood stories about your positive sibling memories…. Make them up if you have to… but do not share the negative ones. Encourage cooperation – have them work on a project or task together. Ask the kids themselves what they think would be helpful in improving their relationship. Kids can give you a lot of insight when asked. It also gives both offending parties an opportunity to be heard. Consider their ideas and ask them what they can agree on for appropriate boundaries in their relationship. Establish healthy boundaries between each child and what their developmental needs are at the time. Teens need privacy, alone time, and time with friends. Teaching younger and older siblings to respect the developmental needs of teens is important. Praise and encourage both kids and their progress in the relationship during non-conflict times.