A mother wrote in on Mothering.com’s Ask An Expert and wondered how to get her 7-year old boy and her 5-year old girl to appreciate each other and nurture a sibling bond as their personalities are very different and most of their interactions “largely unpleasant.” I answered with some of my favorite tips for family unity and sibling harmony.
I touch upon individuation, togetherness, family unity, activities that promote bonding, conflict resolution, media that celebrates the sibling relationship, and general context for the sibling relationship.
Here is an excerpt:
The Family Tree: You want to build a context of who they can be for each other and the long view of their life together. One way to do this is to create a family tree, so they get a sense of their lineage and the bloodlines that have come together to create their unique family. After you create the family tree, open the conversation up to the future; pointedly, if they both have children someday, they will have the opportunity to be the aunt and uncle to each other’s children, their children will be cousins, and their children will have the same grandparents. Talking in this way plants the seed in their subconscious of the longevity and opportunities of their relationship.
Honoring Needs: It is easy for siblings to bump up against each other when they have a similar disposition because the proximity and intimacy of the relationship, and the situation is even more ripe for conflict with different temperaments; in your case, his need for stimulation and her need for quiet. Make an effort to consciously give him an outlet for noise, movement, and interaction, as well as creating still, protected space for your daughter; this may mean creating drop-off activities for him, while she gets to be home filling the space in her gentle way. When they are both home, you might try a sound machine, so that she can be in one room with a water fountain, meditative music and a quiet activity, while he’s in another room or outside in a big and vibrant way.
About Jessica Williams
Jessica Williams created L.O.V.E. Parenting with a series of techniques for effective communication, deepened connection and more joy in parenting and life. Jessica is also the creator of www.UltimateParentingCourse.com with the best of today’s progressive parenting experts together in one program. Jessica is a featured expert internationally on both Mothering.com’s Ask An Expert and the upcoming www.KidsInTheHouse.com. Jessica is a regular contributor to Mothering Magazine’s All Things Mothering, LA Parent Magazine, LA Mom Magazine & DailyBuzzMoms. She has been interviewed on television and radio and taught workshops at family wellness centers, schools and doctor’s offices. Her BirthKit has helped women have a transformational & empowering birth. Jessica maintains a private coaching practice in her native Los Angeles where she lives with her husband and their three children. “Truly amazing woman. I love her advice.”—Carrie-Anne Moss. “All you have shared has helped tremendously.”—Lisa Bonet. “I am experiencing nothing short of a miracle thanks to your laser beam approach.” –Andrea Bendewald.