The Identity of Siblings

siblings, siblings rivalry, siblings conflict, sibling friendship, parenting, , parenting skills, parenting, parent coach, parent coach los angeles, parent coach orange county, parent skills, mercedes samudio lcswSiblings are built in friends, confidants, and partners in crime. Having a siblings helps to reduce boredom and gives you a person to talk to when the rest of the world kicks your butt! And, siblings give you the social skills needed to function in the world. Whether you’re the oldest, the youngest, the middle, you’re 2 years apart or 10 years apart, your sibling will always be the person that’s in your corner and at your throat!

And, for parents siblings can be both a gift and a curse. Ha! When you see them helping each other and being good to one another it’s like a dream come true. Then, when they are yelling at each other and swearing that they’ll never talk to the other again, it can be a sheer nightmare! You find yourself playing referee and peace maker, while at other times you are the odd one out as they conspire against you! Overall, being the parent of siblings can feel like a kaleidoscope of feelings, blessings, nightmares, and love!

With that being said, I wanted to share some common themes and ideas that make up the identity of siblings!

Encouraging Friendships

With siblings, the best thing you can do it to encourage their friendship. Not to force them to like each other, but to give them a healthy understanding that a friendship does not mean all will be nice and sweet. Helping your siblings to understand the ups and downs of friendship will guide them to having a realistic picture of what it means to be a friend to their sibling. These three articles really focus on what it looks like to encourage healthy and realistic friendships between your siblings:

  1. 5 Easy Ways To Encourage Siblings Friendships – The author here shares ideas like making mane calling off-limits, limiting age-oriented activities, discouraging tattling, and creating a buddy system all can help your siblings to cultivate a real friendship. I like the idea of pairing the older siblings with the younger siblings and giving them a special project to promote the relationship.
  2. Five Tips for Cultivating Siblings Friendships – This article illustrates that when you can help your siblings learn to respect each other the friends can really blossom and creating a “Family Acts of Kindness” jar in the home can really encourage siblings’ nurturing each other. Even allowing them to be load and have fun together can be a way to help them be great friends – even if it is hard on your sanity
  3. How To Encourage Lifelong Friendships Between Siblings – My favorite idea from this article is to facilitate team work between your siblings. If one kid is better academically, have them tutor the other kids. Or if one kid has an affinity for technology, encourage them to teach their siblings how to be tech savvy.

Managing Disagreements

There is no way to have siblings who like each other all the time. And, although you do your best to encourage friendship between your children, they still get under each other’s skin. The interesting this is that this is what happens when we live under the same roof with others – it’s a human trait. But, for you, it can be a tiresome trend in your home. The urge to stop and referee comes up almost suddenly, but I share with parents that the better strategy is to teach your children how to manage their disagreements in a healthy way.

  1. How To Manage Conflict Between Siblings– This author suggests a few tips to teach healthy management of conflict between your children such as pinpointing the cause of the disagreement, validate each child’s feelings, guiding them to make amends if they truly are sorry, and helping them celebrate each other’s differences.
  2. Siblings At War In Your Home? – This article encourages you to explains how to identify a bullying situation between siblings where one sibling to be the boss and the other sibling does more passive things to get back at the bully (like name calling) – and gives a healthy intervention for stopping this situation! I also loved the idea of setting up a bickering table where siblings can only argue in a specific spot at a specific time!

Establishing Separate Identities

Another aspect of your siblings developing is finding out who they are irrespective of their siblings. For you, helping your children find separate identities doesn’t have to be a huge chore. One of the main ways to facilitate healthy identity formation in your siblings is to get to know them individually. I challenge parents to “date” their kids which entails hanging out with each siblings without the other’s present.

  1. Siblings Are Forever – This article suggests that respecting your child’s relationship with their siblings will help them to create healthy identities because they get a chance to name what their sibling is to them.
  2. Should Siblings Attend The Same School? – I appreciated the answers this article posits for this question: if possible put children in separate schools to discourage type-casting of younger siblings based on older siblings’ behaviors (both positive and negative) and if not possible talk to teachers & school administrators about each child’s specific needs.
  3. Creating A Separate School Identity For Siblings – Despite the title of this article, there is a discussion on encouraging separate hobbies and after-school activities to help your children develop separate identities. Also, the author suggests allowing each child’s voice to be heard during family time, like at dinner.

Dealing with Favorites

This can feel like a difficult subject to discuss, and an even more difficult thing to admit. But, in my work with families I have come to realize that parents have a favorite among their children. And, it doesn’t have to be the stereotypical “good kid” who is the favorite. I challenge my parents to be honest about having a favorite child and to look for the traits that make this child your favorite.

  1. Having A Favorite Child Without The Guilt – In this article, I talk more about having a favorite and how to have a favorite child without feeling guilty – by mostly being aware of the traits of your favorite child.
  2. 5 Signs You Have A Favorite Child – The main point that I loved from this article is that favoring a child does not signal withholding of love! The article also explains that letting a younger child get away with things, placing uneven expectations on your children, and having a noticeable change in demeanor and mood around each child are signs that you favor one child over the other – even if you don’t want to admit it.
  3. How Parents Can Deal With Having A Favorite Child – The author explains that parents will parent differently because each child is different and that the parent-child relationship is based on unique personalities and circumstances that work differently at different times. But, the author also states that not being aware of your favoritism (or ignoring it) can be more detrimental because you will treat each child differently – which will place barriers on your relationship with your children.

Essentially, parenting siblings will be a big task. But, what I hope you’ve gathered from this post is that most of the job entails helping them develop a healthy relationship with each other, being supportive of their separate identities, and being honest about what traits cause you to favor one over the other!

How do you help guide your children to develop healthy relationships with each other?

2 thoughts on “The Identity of Siblings”

  1. so much goodness to dive into in this article! I want to read all those linked articles…someday. Thank you for synthesizing it for the now. As I was putting my youngest to bed the other night, she informed me that she loves daddy and I to the moon and planets and back and she loves her sister (her favorite playmate and biggest offender) “to the roof”…working on nudging their sisterly affection a tad further along. 😉

    1. Welcome Rebecca! I love that your daughter is able to express herself that way! I think that fostering her relationship with her sister is a great idea, but take some space to realize that you’ve done a great job guiding their relationship already if she feels so comfortable expressing herself that way. We tend to think that comments like this mean the relationship isn’t great, but it actually means that they have a relationship where she can love her sister a lot or not so much at times — and to me that is a healthy relationship! I hope that you can come back to the article and read the posts that feel relevant to you! Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I look forward to seeing your insights on other posts!

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