Kate’s Corner: Sibling Power
Posted February 8, 2010on:
“There’s nothing quite as strong as the relationships of siblings. There’s nothing quite as fragile as the relationships of siblings.” -M. Marone
Family dynamics are really something! They range from calm, cool and collected to drama, drama, drama. When there are two or more children in a family, it is amazing how relationships are built and bonds are established. Parents and extended family clearly play the major role in establishing sibling relationships, right from the beginning.
We can encourage Sibling Power with dedicated understanding that each child is an individual with their very own unique personalities, talents and abilities.
Set limits and boundaries. Young children try many different ways to establish ownership and territory. While we always want our children to cooperate and play with each other, it is important to remember that not everything and every place belongs to everyone. Favorite toys and games can “belong” to one child with invitations for others to join. A personal “lovie” is just that – personal. Say “no” to older siblings purposely taking things away from younger ones and help older siblings keep their things safe from little ones by establishing specific spaces for special toys and personal items. Most family spaces and places are for everyone but children will feel empowered with respected ownership in some and this will create harmony in the others.
Respect development. Encourage each age older to be a helper to each age younger. If infants enter a family, even a young toddler should be actively engaged in their care and comfort supported holding for bottles and rest for babies, talking, singing to and sitting with each day. Preschoolers can make pictures and decorations for babies; talk to them, get diapers, pick out their clothes and sing them to sleep. School agers can hold and feed babies under supervision, get spaces ready, make lists, push the stroller and read special books. No matter what the ages, each brother or sister can find ways to be part of each aspect of the other’s life.
Create visible and clear connections. Family pictures, projects and art proudly displayed, fun games and activities that everyone joins in, simple invitations to “go with” for errands, visits & appointments, lots of talking to and about each one to the other(s) in positive and supportive language. High, clear praise for each child and visible, clear pride for all is so important in avoiding sibling rivalries.
Set an example of sibling power. As adults, we understand there are many relationships that have developed over the years for many reasons. Children don’t understand this. They are working on building connections from the ground up. Set a positive model in a respectful way.
I look at very young children holding hands with their brothers and sisters. I hear little voices singing sweet lullabies to their new babies. I smile at scuffles getting into car seats followed by the sharing of pretzel snacks.
This is – Sibling Power!
-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director