How To Coach Siblings To Listen To Each Other

What's Covered

If you witness two girls or boys arguing about something and pushing each other in the process, they are probably siblings. Although everybody has unique opinions and uses different approaches to solve any matter, siblings, on the other hand, feed on conflicts and have dynamic relationships.

It is quite common for siblings to experience unannounced shifts between negative and positive behaviors; after all, that’s what a typical sibling interaction feels like.

Nonetheless, there is a prevalent assumption that minimizing conflict is the most effective methodology for improving sibling relationships. So let’s learn how to make that happen.[1]

The Power of Sibling Relationships

For an only child, fitting in can be an uphill battle. But when you have siblings, there’s a high chance of becoming the popular kid in school. Why? Well, sibling relationships offer one of the most potent and stable developmental perspectives of both antisocial and prosocial behavior.

When you one or two siblings, you get an excellent support source (even in the form of hatred) and develop many skills. Sibling relationships can also build competence in emotional and self-regulation understanding.

Unfortunately, some sibling relationships experience a downfall when one of them starts substance use. The conflict between siblings is a normal thing; it can be controlled, but the bond begins to break if one goes astray. Hence, many adverse outcomes.

When it comes to coaching siblings on listening to each other, many factors come into consideration. And the most critical bodies whose involvement can make a difference are the parents.

Parents must implement a few practices and contribute enormously to their well-being and the quality of sibling relationships.[2]

What Causes Sibling Conflict?

Sometimes, being egoistic and self-centered can be the reason for rivalry. Other times, it is fighting for the parents’ respect and love.

Signs of sibling conflicts might include name-calling, immature behavior, bickering, and hitting. Is it possible to take this down a notch? Of course. Keeping the fights to a moderate level can improve sibling relationships and encourage them to speak out their thoughts.

While conflicts are a natural part of growing up, many other factors can create a disturbance in the “bonding session” of your children, including age, personality, sex, the size of your family, and each child’s position in the family. Some examples are:

  • Siblings who are the same age might fight each other more than the children who are farther apart in age.
  • Middle child – who might not get the same attention or privileges as the youngest or oldest child in the family – might start to act out or feel insecure.
  • Siblings of the same sex might share some common interests, but they might go crazy when it comes to competition.
  • Siblings whose parents are divorced might find it an obligation to compete and crave for the parent’s attention and love with whom they wish to live.

Acting insecure and feeling left-out is often just a phase. Some children tend to get over it as they grow up, while others remain in the same trance.

Furthermore, younger children have the urge to fight physically, and adults prefer verbal arguments. Competitiveness between children typically peaks between the ages of 11 and 16. However, in severe cases, sibling opposition can continue into adulthood.

Why Do Siblings Bicker

Every relationship needs, be it a husband-wife relation, a mother-daughter/son and father, or any other, is nurturing.

When nurtured the right way, kids will have a conscience inside them that refrains from doing the wrong thing.

The rivalry and adverse effects of sibling relationships do not end on the “siblings” because constant victimization can disapprove of society.

It is not easy to encourage a sense of independence between two kids, especially when you want to teach them to resolve their arguments. Siblings are always together. They compete with each other for everything – couch space, food, your attention, toys.

Even if they somehow get along, a traditional relationship tension steps in, representing the thought, “I want it now.”

That’s called egocentrism. No matter how hard you try to make it work, siblings won’t always get along. They are sometimes tired, which takes a toll on their decision-making, making it evident that older siblings take the younger ones’ pressure.

There is often a factor of “peer pressure in schools,” which prevents them from acting out. And as a result of the hold-up, children get relief from the situation when they come home. How do they do it? – fighting with their siblings, of course!

Young children have no idea how to compromise. When the conflicts become unavoidable, their power-weapon is to start crying. Their ability to normalize their thoughts and feelings is not matured.

The Ultimate Showdown: How To Encourage Siblings to Listen to Each Other

When you look it up on the web, you will discover many research papers that present unique theories on strengthening and improving sibling relationships.

According to a family systems theory, the importance of a loving bond between siblings regulates attitude and effect throughout their lives.

On the other hand, a narrow search has been done on the contributions children make to develop their bond.[3] Still, parents can take control of the situation by implementing some laws.

What kind of laws, you say? Here’s what we mean:

1.    Never practice nepotism nor compare your kids

If you want your children to maintain a healthy bond without conflicting over the smallest things, never try to take one person’s side.

Saying things like, “Why can’t you be more like your bother?” or “Your sister knows bedside manners” can reflect an opposite meaning.

Even if you try to impose something else, preferring one child over the other never ends well. Also, comparing your children is, indeed, a sure-fire way to start the fire of sibling rivalry and promote resentment.

Therefore, always stay neutral.

Furthermore, if both of your children love to play games, but you haven’t been able to find a game they can play together then try Bingo ­– a game designed for kids, of course.

ThinkFun Zingo Bingo Award Winning Preschool Game
It doesn't just encourage togetherness among siblings but also improves their reading skills; a hole in one.

2.    Team them up for chores

Ancient methods are not suitable for Gen Z. The children are smarter and have more guts than before. Therefore, using old-timing tactics, such as leaving the two in one room for a few days, won’t work.

As an example, one of the best ways companies build a sense of cooperation and teamwork among their employees is by having them engage in certain activities and exercises that encourage working together.

Parents can do the same with their kids, either by having them assist each other in chores or by making them work together on a project.

Come up with a plan, such as painting a room or clearing out the garage, and have children work together to get it done.

Parents can also give out chores for their kids to do, such as helping prepare dinner or sweeping and have them race against the adults in the house to see who completes their duties faster. The grownups can be one team, and the kids can be another.

On the other hand, if you are aware that your kids are not fans of house chores, think of something else.

Indeed, it can be challenging to develop other ideas, but hey, here’s a thought: why not try the Sibling Relationships: 20 Activities That Allow Your Children To Become Loving Sisters and Brothers?

This book will provide you with many activity-based ideas that your kids can get into while strengthening their relationship.

Sibling Relationship
It will save the parents' some time on their hands by giving them a free incentive on some of the best activities siblings can do together. Hence, promoting teamwork.

3.    Find out the reason behind sibling conflicts

If you can get this significant obstacle out of the way, there’s no telling how much your siblings will get attached and become an I’m-all-ears kind of a person.

There is a way to determine the presence of a conflict between siblings. Do your children tend to clash when one is teasing the other for attention?

Also, are they competing for your attention and time? Do they fight more when they are bored or tired?

Once you track the pattern leading to this behavior, try addressing those issues to reduce sibling squabbles.

For example, you can try spending some time with each child individually and try to help them find non-antagonizing and better ways to get the other sibling’s attention.

4.    Teach the children to appreciate and respect each other’s opinions/interests

One thing every parent must appreciate is that not every child of theirs will be the same. One child can be a silent operator and the other to be a fan of loud games and endless activities.

When siblings have different temperaments and interests, clashes can naturally occur.

The main thing is to teach kids how to respect each other and keep an eye on what matters: Loving each other.

Suppose one kid wants to pick a family activity that requires a lot of action while another kid wants to do something low-key. In that case, you could create a system where both can work together and take turns to do what they love.

Furthermore, witnessing regular fights and clashes between children can have a severe impact on the parents.

They might blame themselves. When the truth is, it is nobody’s fault. Rivalries are a part of sibling relationships, but when things go out of control, that’s when you should be worried.

Getting your kids to participate in certain activities can boost their level of respect and appreciation for one another. For that, why not give Jenga a try? It is a classic game that never ceases to bring two people together.

Jenga Classic Game
One of the best games for emphasizing patience and learning how to deal with sensitive matters.

5.    The last most precious tip: shape their listening skills

Having the ability to carefully listen to what the other person is saying without being judgemental or ignorant is a well-appreciated skill. And it is vital in encouraging siblings to talk and listen to each other.

The parents need to have their kids view things from someone else’s perspective. Make it a house rule to have siblings listen and try hard to understand each other’s thoughts and opinions.

Lastly, Does Patience Play A Role?

Parents’ end goal is to be hands-off, but there is one thing you all must understand; coaching siblings to be kind and respectful towards each other isn’t a walk in the park.

Parents need to be as intricate as they can and do more teaching. It all starts with intervention and ends in prevention.

You might have to recommend the obvious, such as taking turns or sharing, but let your children decide.

 It is energy and time-consuming, but it all pays off in the end. The siblings consider each other’s opinions, value their feelings, and get equal footing. No doubt, it rebalances their bond.

Since you don’t decide the result, no one feels like they lost or won or that you took a side; therefore, shrinking resentment.[4]

Above all, you are not the one to cast judgment. There is no bad or good, right or wrong. It makes the journey simpler: “Understanding each other and practicing a more considerate approach.”

Final Thoughts

Undoubtedly, close relationships are chief concepts for a child’s development. It plays a much more vital role in family dynamics.

When nurtured right, sibling relationships can be among the most long-term connections individuals experience over a lifetime. Therefore, every parent must do everything in their will to encourage healthy and happy relations between siblings.

At some point, rivalries are acceptable, but bad things can happen when they go out of reach. Parents understand their children better than anyone, and they can set certain boundaries and rules to prevent rattles.[5]

By practicing everything said above, parents can turn their not-so-attached kids into caring, responsible, and I-will-always-be-there-for-you kind of siblings.

[1] Kramer, Laurie. “The essential ingredients of successful sibling relationships: An emerging framework for advancing theory and practice.” Child Development Perspectives 4.2 (2010): 80-86.

[2] Stormshak, Elizabeth A., Bernadette M. Bullock, and Corinna A. Falkenstein. “Harnessing the power of sibling relationships as a tool for optimizing social–emotional development.” New directions for child and adolescent development 2009.126 (2009): 61-77.

[3] Cox, Martha J. “Family systems and sibling relationships.” Child Development Perspectives 4.2 (2010): 95-96.

[4] Leung, Alexander KD, and Wm Lane M. Robson. “Sibling rivalry.” Clinical Pediatrics 30.5 (1991): 314-317.

[5] Howe, Nina, and Holly Recchia. “Sibling relationships as a context for learning and development.” Early Education and Development 25.2 (2014): 155-159.

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Vivian Perry

Vivian Perry

Mother of 3 kids. Enjoy reading parenting books and studied child care degree. Vivian loves to learn and write about parenting tips and help her kids to grow positively with grit mindset.
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