Brothers and Sisters

Brothers and sisters can be the best of friends and sometimes act as if they are the worst of enemies. Their feelings for each other vary and can change over time along with each child's age and stage of development.

Brothers and sisters can squabble, tease and tell on each other. This is normal and one way children learn how to get on with others.

Such behaviour can happen for a number of reason

  • Sometimes it is not possible to treat children in the same way all the time. Parents need to respond to each child's age, personalities and the specific circumstances.
  • It is normal for brothers and sisters to think and behave differently. It is also normal for children to disagree at times.
  • Brothers and sisters may often fight as a means of gaining a parent's attention.
  • Children will often argue over something they feel is not fair.

Responding to siblings

Value and respect each child's individuality, needs and rights. Avoid negative comparisons.

Promote respectful relationships by having family rules that apply to everyone.

Acknowledge and praise times when children are getting on well together.

Allow each child to pursue his or her own interests.

Have realistic expectations about how long young children can play together.

Spend time with each child as well as with all the children together.

Allow children space to sort out their own arguments, ensuring that the conflict is kept to a manageable level. Ask children if they need your help to sort things out. Step in when the conflict becomes unmanageable for children. Don't look for someone to blame. Look for solutions.

Encourage children to think about how other children feel.

Help children to understand that not everything can or should be shared.

Brothers and Sisters
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