Parenting: Siblings are Best Friends

Everyone that meets my kids are amazed at how close they are to each other - They really are each other's best friend. I am really fortunate that they are because it has made life a lot easier, they play so well together and rarely fight. How did they get to be best friends?


Partly Luck:


My son is the oldest by 3 years less 8 days and his personality has lent a lot to this relationship. He is very easy going, doesn't need a lot of attention, and is very responsible. When his sister was born he just stepped aside, grew up and started caring for her.


My daughter is a handful but he keeps her in check and well behaved because she wants to be like him. She loves everything he loves and wants to do everything he does. The best part is he wants her to, he encourages her to, and it doesn't bother him to have her tagging along. That is to say for the most part.... He needs his personal time and time with just his friends every once in a while and it's hard for her to give it to him. When he needs his space or she is being too pushy then I step in and ensure he has what he needs.


Partly work:


Before our daughter was born I talked to my son about what the role of a big brother was. I asked him to be responsible for her, to help her, teach her and take care of her. He takes his job as a big brother very seriously.


When it became apparent that my daughter was getting the best part of the deal and taking full advantage I realized she was old enough to become responsible for her big brother. I asked her to be responsible for him, to help him, teach him and take care of him. She takes her job as a little sister very seriously.


They are responsible for each others happiness - sounds like too much? Well, its not. It's teaching them to think about someone other than themselves in a relationship. When the other one is hurt or sad the other steps up to get them to laugh or be happy. Both find it very rewarding since life is happier when your friend is happy too.


Every night right from when they were small I made it part of their bedtime routine to say "I love you" to each other. It's much easier loving someone and wanting to be friends with them when you know they love you too. It isn't good enough to assume children just know if their sibling loves them, they need to know it. By saying it they will come to love each other.

Anytime they started to fight they'd be separated and if they couldn't be they'd be made to say "I love you" and give hugs and kisses. Ever stay mad at someone who says I love you and gives you a hug? Hugs and loves puts an end to a fight faster then any time out - and with better results.


When there is a disagreement I don't solve it for them, I've helped them figure out how to resolve it themselves. They've come up with contracts to solve conflicts and role definition to create something out of nothing. ie One's the mayor the other the assistant.


It's not always roses in our house, but it is far from a war zone. They do get on each others nerves and they do need their space. My daughter is very bossy and my son's tolerance for it though high does have a limit. However, through love, communication, and responsibility for the other they work it out relatively quickly and are the best of friends again.


My daughter keeps trying to turn into a tattle tale and its like nails on a chalkboard to me. Every time I hear, "Mom (her brother) is (doing something)," my blood boils. Thing is, when is it tattling and when is it not and how can I teach her the difference?


I don't want her telling me stuff just to get her brother in trouble but at the same time I want to make sure she tells me stuff that is important for me to know about. The difference between her brother not doing something I asked him to do and her brother doing something dangerous I need to be aware of. How can a little girl be expected to know the difference?

I ask her what her purpose in telling me something was... ya she doesn't always get what I mean but maybe if I keep repeating myself she'll get it..... Are you telling me because you want him to get into trouble or because he's gonna get hurt or break something?


Some things I need to know about regardless of whether a child will get hurt or break something. Some times tattling is OK and other times it's not.... teaching the difference is the hard part.


When I was pregnant with my daughter I defined my son's role as a big brother for him. As we talked about what it meant to be a big brother he made the role his and took it very seriously. As a big brother he was very concerned about her happiness and her safety.


As my daughter grew up it became very clear that she was getting the better deal so I defined her role as a little sister and made her just as responsible for her big brother as he was for her.

By defining their roles and having them participate in the discussion they took full ownership of their roles in the family. They have become very close and are good friends.



The kids are playing and being very very silly. The noise level is deafening and I'm exhausted after a long week at work so it's irritating. Sending then to another level of the house helps - I know I'm in trouble when their laughs are as irritating as their whining and bickering.


I am fortunate that they are able to get up on their own and play together keeping each other entertained until I get enough sleep. After another night of insomnia I really needed the sleep.

They were trained right from being little to amuse themselves Saturday morning, whether they grab a snack and watch Cartoons or play together. It sure has paid off.


My kids have friends over and the weather outside is too cold to send them outside. The volume in the house and the absolute silliness is getting on my nerves. so I put my ipod on and my stress level decreased immediately.


So if you know a new mom and you're wondering what she needs, really good earplugs or earphones for an IPOD.


My brother and his partner came to visit the cabin and as usual things revert back to childhood. Why does unresolved childhood conflict rear its ugly head and is there anyway to overcome it? Do we have to always act like we are 7 years old around our parents?

Personally I have lots of unresolved issues with my brother, he's great at everything he does and has the same tastes, humour and opinions as my parents. I on the other hand do not. It pains me that we can't sit and talk to each other like friends or want to get together to hang out.


It is what it is and to force it into something else just won't happen. Is it environmental or is it genetic? Looking back through the family tree I find that my father isn't close with his sister, my grandfather didn't talk to his sisters (and one lived just behind them), my great grandfather moved across the country from his siblings. Is it genetic?


Personality has a lot to do with whether or not you will get along, my brother and I just happen to have different personalities - he has one. He loves small town living and knows what is going on in our hometown where I love the city. We are both outgoing but in different ways, he is always surrounded by friends and yet has a career where he doesn't work around people. I enjoy my solitude at home yet have a career that involves meeting new people and building relationships with them on a daily basis. He's athletic and healthy, I'm not. I read, he doesn't. I like to discuss politics and philosophy he jokes about political issues and is not philosophical. I have kids, he doesn't. The list goes on and on. Although we had the same upbringing, the same environment, the same opportunities we are as different as night and day.


My brother has lots of friends for a reason he's a fun guy to be around. He is in no hurry to be a responsible husband or parent because he enjoys his outdoor recreational activities. He keeps in touch with friends he's met all over the world and is always the life of the party. He has a great career that suits him to a T and he's really great at. He has a beautiful woman to share his life with and a wonderful life in the Coastal Mountains of BC. What skier wouldn't want to live just minutes from Whistler?


I admire him and think he's got a great life, just wish we could get past all the childhood crap and be friends.



My children are different from each other in so many ways, but it is the time they spend together that is the most important. It is the activities that they both like that I try to ensure they get time for, watching TV and playing video games don't count. It is the quality time they spend playing together that will build a close friendship.


If you are so busy that the family doesn't get time to have fun together then its members will start to grow apart from each other. This year is the only year my children will be in the same school and the same schedule, it will be extra important that they spend time together.

If you over schedule your family when will your children have time to spend together. Since Last year our lives have been in constant flux and our kids haven't had many activities. They spend lots of time playing together. For this spring however, I've over scheduled - on Mondays my son has Drama, on Tuesdays Ball, on Wednesdays Piano, on Thursdays ball. Now add in my daughter's activities and it takes up Friday and Saturday.


If your kids can find activities they like to do together then your one step ahead of the game. Not only will you save time by getting them to the same place at the same time but they will also find common ground that will bring them closer.


Avoiding sibling rivalry is not easy and impossible to do but there are things parents can do to mitigate the rivalry. Life is full of stress and full of demands and when one child demands a parents time more than the other child or one child is more intelligent and understanding it can be simpler to take the easy way out.


To illustrate what I'm talking about I will use a Reba episode or group of episodes. Specifically the episodes where Kyra decides to move in with her dad because she feels like she's at the bottom of the totem pole at her mom's house.


The last straw is when Kyra gets the chance to go to summer school in England because she achieved a 4.0 average in English. Reba comes up with the cash but Cheyanne needs it to go to summer school because she dropped too many courses during the year.


Reba chooses to bail out Cheyanne because she'll lose her daycare if she doesn't make up the dropped courses. She feels guilty and when Kyra is so understanding she feels let off the hook. However, Kyra actually feels like she's got the short end of the stick again and decides that there really is no place for her at her mother's house.


Has this ever happened to you? Either as a sibling or as a parent?


I have to watch what I do because my daughter is very demanding of time, attention, and stuff. My son is quieter and more internal with his feelings and his problems. He is very intelligent and understanding about life and choices that need to be made by us. He sometimes feels like his sister is more loved and favored by other members of the family - this is not true but I can see how he'd feel that way. His sister is younger, cute, helpful, loud and outgoing. He is quiet and intellectual, an adult needs to make an effort to spend one on one time with him because he'll sit back and wait. If the adult doesn't take the initiative he'll understand and internalize his feelings.


The ultimate result if I let things run their course and not make decisions to pay special attention to him - sibling rivalry. He will start to blame his sister and resent her favored status in the family. Taking an hour to sit down and talk with him and ask him questions to create a plan of action to include him is nothing. He's more important than any time I'd spend watching TV, cleaning the house, surfing the net or spending time with my nose in a book.

The consequences of our parenting decisions have further reaching effects then we understand. Choosing the easy way, the path of least resistance may create a home that is more of a war zone then a place of love.



2008:

My daughters birthday is tomorrow, it came fast. My son came home from school in a panic, it was April 1st and he had to get to the store to buy his sister a birthday present right away. He went to the store with his dad to get a gift came home and told her he'd gotten her something different then the actual gift and wanted to make her a card. He's more excited then she is, he's full of the joy of giving. Tomorrow will be so wonderful to share in his excitement in giving her a gift he choose and paid for with his own money. I wasn't expecting him to spend his own money, he just came and asked for the cheque he just received as an Easter gift from Grandma.


My daughter loves to give too, but not as much as she loves to shop for herself. I don't know how to instill the joy of giving into children, my son was born with it. I am hoping that if I give my daughter more opportunities to give she will be filled with the same joy of giving, only time will tell.


After all, it is better to give than to receive.


2008:


My son has been sick for a couple of days and my daughter has been such a caring and wonderful sister. She would take him food, water, and freezies. She would get movies for him to watch and made get well cards to cheer him up. When she would come home from school the first thing she'd do was go and see if he needed something. She stayed with him and whenever he needed me she'd run and get me.


He is feeling better now and I overheard him tell her how wonderful she is. He let her know how much he appreciated everything she did for him and gave her hugs and kisses.


I couldn't be prouder of both of them. She was a good little nurse to him and he was an appreciative patient and communicated his appreciation to her. Their relationship is all about love and caring, I let them know how proud I am of them and how important it is to me that they are close.


2008:

Do you encourage your children to tell each other "I Love You"? They need to know that their siblings love and value them not only to raise their self esteem but to avoid self pity assumptions that are not true.


Do you encourage your children to tell each other how great they are? Self esteem is one of those things that needs to be nurtured and what better way then by their siblings? Siblings who know that their sibling thinks they are a great sister or brother will strive to continue to keep that title. This also will ensure that wrong and damaging assumptions are not made.

Siblings will fight and they will get on each others nerves. They will say mean things to each other and hurt each others feelings. The result of which can be blown out of proportion if they are unsure if their sibling loves them. If they already believe that their sibling can't stand them more negative words will only prove their mistaken assumptions.


This is the month of love. Why not encourage more love in your home by establishing an "I Love You" habit. No one goes to bed without saying "I Love You" to everyone.



Are you planning a baby shower for a friend or relative? Looking for baby shower ideas? Is this maybe the second child for the family? If this is the second baby, include the older child in the festivities. Give him or her a special job, a surprise for the new baby. Make sure to have a gift for the older child that will include him or her in the gift receiving. Something to celebrate their special role as a new big sibling.


The older sibling could be responsible for:

Picking out a gift

Choosing the theme of the party

Picking the color scheme

Decorating

Picking out the cake


Give the child a digital camera or a one use camera to take pictures of the baby shower. See how they saw the day and then together put the pictures in an album with little notes to the baby from their older sibling.


Having the older sibling involved in the baby shower planning and festivities will bring him or her a sense of being included even if the party is about the new baby instead of them. They will have a feeling of importance and a spirit of giving.


Go Green Environmentally Friendly Baby Shower Theme

For baby shower ideas, supplies and gift ideas.

Gifts for the older sibling



My 8 year old son is a fantastic reader and he loves to read to his 5 year old sister before bed. He will read her a bedtime story and spend some real quality time together. He helps her learn her words and she loves this special time with her big brother.


Every night before bed we sit and read, sometimes I read a chapter from a chapter book, sometimes my son reads to his sister, sometimes my daughter will read to me. It's this time that we all bond together.


My kids have a hard time falling asleep, tonight they actually fell asleep before 9:30 that's a record. So the time we spend before bed must be quiet and relaxing. However, when my son reads to his sister it's usually full of laughter and not much resting. He will even help her read sometimes, that is really special time.


I don't have them over scheduled in lots of different activities, I value the time that they spend together at home too much to have one following the other all over the city. It's my goal to have a close family not a busy one.


Their favorite book to read together is Alligator Stew, this might explain the uncontrollable laughter.


I feel bad for my little girl and wish there were more girls around her age. She feels left out a lot because her brother has lots of kids knocking on the door wanting to play with him, but rarely does she have someone asking her to play. I don't want to make her brother take her all the time, but sometimes I do by asking him questions trying to get him into her shoes. He will usually take her along when I ask.


What I find harder to do though, is to get him to stick up for her when the neighbour boys are being mean to her. There have been times when I've told the neighbour boys if they want to play with him they have to play with her too or he has to come home. The neighbours are brothers and they love to play with my son, the problem is they want nothing to do with my daughter and she ends up crying because they are mean to her.


I then try to get my son into her shoes by asking him how he would feel and if he were her what he'd want to see happen. For the most part it is working and he will take her with him if I ask but he still has a problem sticking up for her when his friends are mean.


Being a big brother is a huge responsibility because you have this little girl looking up at her knight in shining armour. When he refuses to act the little princesses heart is broken.

It seems any time there is conflict between them it happens as a result of other kids being in the picture. I want them to stand together as a united front against the onslaught of the world, but that is a lot to ask.


They need their own friends, their own space their own alone time to really appreciate the time they have together. They are individuals that need to find their own strength on their own. I know this, but it is hard when my daughter comes in with tears running down her face because the kids are being mean and her big brother isn't standing up for her.



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