one: teach respect

Foster respect as a parenting goal and that will feed into sibling relationships.

two: compete against mom and dad

Team up and compete against Mom and Dad – and watch those kids unite!  Physical games are ideal – tag, flags, hide and seek, or a water fight. Mom and Dad versus the kids is tons of fun for both sides. A water fight especially may be just be the motivation your kids need to work together – the opportunity to soak their parents!

three: play as a family

This strengthens the family unit and kids who are taught to value the family as a whole will also value their siblings more.  Dedicated family playtime also models for siblings how to play fair, which will lead to a healthier relationship.  Remember that your involvement in play will decrease as your kids get older (but regularly scheduled family time is always important!).  The more work you put in early, the better they’ll play together when alone later on.

four: use positive parenting

We all know that continued negative parenting practices like yelling and over-punishing can be detrimental to a child’s well-being.  But did you know it can also lead to older children imitating these behaviors and bullying younger siblings?  Practicing positive parenting techniques fosters a healthy parent-child relationship as well as a respectful sibling relationship and high self-esteem (which reduces competition amongst siblings).

five: make birthdays a big deal

We do big birthdays in our house. Not big in cost, just big on celebrating our special birthday boy or girl.In our house, it is their one very special day to be all about them. They get to choose dinner, games, activities, special snacks, everything! And we aim to spend the whole day making, doing, and being as a family.Since our focus is on activities and time, we don’t get too much jealousy – as everyone is participating. And since everyone has a birthday, everyone knows they get a special day too. Lyric & Canton have a full day to think about and appreciate the birthday boy or girl. They also go out or make sure to make a gift for each other. A great boost to sibling relationships

six: let your children care for one another

Encourage your children to nurture one another: let your older child read a bedtime story to his little brother or sister or ask your toddler if she wants to rub her brother's back before his afternoon nap. Or suggest that your younger child give your older child a kiss when she's crying because she’s fallen and hurt herself. 

Whenever possible, take a step back and allow them to look after each other. This way, your older child will see herself as a compassionate person rather than a troublemaker. And your little one will be able to perceive his big sister as a gentle, caring person. 

seven: see each child as an individual

It’s not unusual for your kids to ask who you love the most. While it’s tempting to tell them you love them equally, the truth is children don't want to hear that – they want to be loved uniquely. Instead, you might say something like:


eight: encourage empathy and understanding

Having a sibling is also a perfect way to teach empathy and understanding. There are opportunities almost every day to show my kids the importance of being flexible…

nine: let them fight (and make up)

Let your kids work out some problem on their own. In life there will be arguments and disagreements, but if we always step in they don't get to learn how to resolve issues in a healthy way.