Encouraging Your Children to Love Each Other
You have three young children, and they fight like cats and dogs. How can you encourage your children to develop closer, more loving relationships with each other?
- Lead by example: model the behaviors that you want your children to exhibit and ask your babysitter to do the same. Your children watch what you do and repeat your behaviors.
- Teach kindness, empathy, and big-picture thinking. If you are driving and another motorist cuts you off, do you curse or calmly state that the other driver must be in a hurry or having a difficult day? If a friend of yours takes a position that you cannot support, do you condemn the position or do you state that, while you understand why your friend has chosen that position and you support your friend’s right to take that position, you hold a different position? If you get laid off at work, do you speak ill of the company or state that, while you regret losing your job, you can only hope that this round of lay-offs can help the company remain in business so that your former co-workers can keep their jobs?
- Exhibit calmness, gentleness, and a sense of humor. Calm and gentle responses, especially when confronted with difficulties, is a learned behavior that is essential for healthy human interactions. Humor helps people, adults and children alike, “roll with the punches”.
- Give hugs and kisses often. Additionally, tell your children often that you love them.
- Praise your children when they exhibit loving behaviors.
- Practice shared family activities and emphasize the value of family. If a family member experiences a success, hold a family celebration. If a family member experiences a challenge, hold a family support session. Foster a sense that each family member shares in the successes and challenges of each other.
- Include your children in information about the happenings in your home and lives. This is especially true if you and your spouse are expecting. Let your children know about their anticipated new sibling. Involve your children in planning and preparation.
- When sibling rivalry occurs, be objective, don’t play favorites. Treat your children firmly but respectfully. Don’t speak badly of one child in front of your other children. Encourage your children to get to the root of their conflicts and discuss them openly, negotiate fairly, and find resolution where possible. When all else fails, encourage your children to agree to disagree and accept that outcome peacefully.
By following these steps, you will lay the foundation for close, loving relationships between your children.