Improving the relationship between siblings

Simple things to practice and preach.

Setting a good example

The advantage of a larger family is that children can witness all kinds of interactions without participating in them themselves. This can be very educational. For example, the child can see how a quarrel arises and how it is resolved, without being part of it or having to take sides.

You can set a great example by practicing social skills yourself to others, or to each other, such as:

  • Conflict resolution
  • Cooperating
  • Politeness
  • Active listening
  • Emotional management
  • Respecting others, especially other’s differences
  • Asking for help
  • Giving feedback
  • Complimenting others
Decision making model

Describe what is happening

Decision making model

As a parent, you are often a reporter of daily life. You explain what is happening and make things less threatening. You tell your children what possibilities and choices you see for them and evaluate their behavior with them. And you use the positive words that you hope will become part of their vocabulary.

When it comes to stimulating the relationship between siblings you can try to:

  • say: “your brother is here” in stead of “Natan is here”
  • explain how the little one is trying to copy the older one, because he wants to be just like her
  • when you are proud of one child, ask the other child if he/she is proud as well
  • when saying goodbye, simply ask if he will give his little sister a hug as well
  • emphasize what a fun day you all had together
  • say things like: “look how your baby brother is smiling at you!”
  • give appraisal for playing together and working together
  • make jokes about it, when they are teaming up against you
  • speak positively about one child to another child, without comparing them
  • when they forget to thank each other, do it for them: “thank you for waiting for your sister”
  • take a look at family photos together and encourage them to pay attention to each other’s stories and memories
  • help them solve conflicts themselves: define the problem, think about solutions together, and agree together on how it will be solved.

Describe what you would like to happen

A big part of parenting is to keep repeating standards. Even if they’re not listening at all and you can’t get a handle on them, you can at least repeat the norm once more: “we don’t run inside the house”.

It is the same with siblings and their behaviour. You can calmly keep telling them how you like it:

  • in this house we always let each other finish our stories
  • we have to take good care of each other
  • I would like you to be more patient with each other
  • I hope that you will love your brothers as much as I love my brothers
  • It would be nice if you would do that for your brother
  • can you show your brother how to do that?
  • can you wash the dishes together?
  • shall we take turns so we can look at each other trying these dance moves?
Decision making model

Interesting web sites about parenting


Sometimes parenting comes naturally and sometimes you could use some tips. Important events or changes in a child’s behavior can be a reason to seek advice.

U.S. Government website:     Positive parenting

Harvard University:       Centre on the Developing Child

Rasmussen University:      Understanding the stages of emotional development in children

Online program :        More fun with brothers and sisters