It’s the eternal question that challenges every parent – how can we better manage the relationships between our kids?
If your family is anything like mine, stress and strife characterise sibling relationships.
In my house, there’s the 14 yo older brother, who veers between wanting to annoy his sisters one minute and wanting to be alone the next. Then there’s his 12 yo sister, whose hormones are off the chart and who thinks the world is ending multiple times a day. Then we have their little 8 yo sister, who just wants to play and cannot understand the teenage angst of her older siblings.
The spectre of various diagnoses also play a part in our house, with the two older kids often requiring more time and attention than I have to give. Which results in all three complaining about me, each other and how unfair life is. It’s the cycle that never ends…
After years of trying to balance their different needs, I’ve had to accept some truths about managing sibling relationships in our house. I’ve had to be honest with my kids about the unique dynamics of our family and I’ve had to find different strategies to manage my approach to sibling relationships.
I’ve had to let go of the guilt
Yes, I feel guilty about spending more time with my older kids, but, I’d feel equally guilty if I didn’t spend the time required to address their needs. Guilt doesn’t change the situation or make things better. It just makes me feel infinitely worse. Letting go of the guilt and accepting the truth of my situation has made a big difference.
I’ve learned to make the most of the time I have
I try to have one-on-one time with each of the kids each day (even if it’s a story before bed). I’ve also learned to make the most of any opportunity, so a car trip to an appointment represents quality one-on-one time rather than just a car trip. Looking at time differently can make a big difference in creating quality time with your kids.
I’ve focused on cultivating loving relationships between my kids
I’ve worked hard on my relationships with the kids but I’ve also focused on their relationships with each other. In our case, sibling relationships have improved with age and with years of modelling desired behaviour. My two eldest are finally getting along now they are both at high school, something I thought I’d never see!
I’ve concentrated on positive interactions
I make a conscious effort to value my kids individually, and to tell them so, wherever possible. I give them positive feedback each day, so they know their efforts are valued and they are loved. Making a conscious effort to create positive interactions with them goes a long way to creating loving and respectful relationships.
Managing sibling relations in any family is tough. It’s impossible to evenly balance out attention across all members of the family, regardless of how hard you try.
However, letting go of the guilt, taking advantage of every interaction, focusing on developing loving relationships and providing positive feedback can make a huge difference when managing relationships between your kids.
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