My kids are 13 and 8 and spend most of their time arguing. They are masters of knowing what buttons to push to incite each other’s temper and they do it frequently. Which means I spend more time acting like a hockey referee than a parent. Which really is not a fun job when you aren’t getting paid to do it and you aren’t legally allowed to body check the players.
But over the past few years I have learned a few ways to help encourage my kids to get along and I’m not afraid to admit that bribery plays a big part of my tactics. It works. And it works well. Experts would call it positive reinforcement but we all know that it really just amounts to bribery.
Tips to help siblings get along
Plan a special family activity away from home – whether you go overnight or just take a day away from home, doing something they will enjoy just with the family often causes them to get along naturally without a whole lot of effort on your part. Even kids need a break from the routine of every day, and doing something special will improve their moods and will reflect in how they treat each other.
Divide household chores evenly – there is nothing worse from a child’s point of view of having to do work while their sibling sits and plays. Even with a big age gap, you can assign simple chores to younger children so the perception is that they are doing an equal amount of work. There will be less resentment from the older siblings.
Set boundaries about touching each other’s things – there should be some things that are family things that anyone can use, but there do need to be some rules and which things are off limits. Older siblings need to know that their things are “safe” from being used and abused by their younger siblings and in order to build respect for boundaries, younger siblings need to have items that are off limits from older siblings as well. But don’t lose sight of having some things that are “shared” so you don’t create an atmosphere of selfishness as well.
Cook together – I have found that my kids really come together as a team when they are preparing a recipe together. They take turns adding ingredients and really invest themselves into creating a successful recipe together. Just make sure to lay out some ground rules about taking turns ahead of time and establishing any privileges that older kids may have, such as using knives, that the younger kids may not have. Recently my kids created a homemade ranch snack mix together inspired by a story in one of my daughter’s chapter books. You can find the recipe below.
Cue up some shows they will both enjoy – Netflix has a huge catalog of shows that will appeal to a wide range of ages at the same time. Movies such as Home and How to Train Your Dragon II and shows such as Fuller House, AFV and Kickin’ It have a wide appeal and you may even find yourself enjoying them as well. Bonding over a funny movie or show while enjoying a homemade treat that they made themselves is the perfect formula for sibling harmony. At least for a brief amount of time! If you can’t get them to agree on a show, have them each write their 8 favorite shows on this FREE “fortune teller” printable and let fate decide!
Homemade ranch snack mix
- 6 ounce (approx.) bag of small cheddar crackers
- 6 ounces small pretzels
- ½ cup peanuts
- 6-8 ounces corn chips
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 packet ranch dressing mix
- In a large bowl mix all of the snacks together.
- Mix ranch dressing into olive oil until dissolved.
- Pour oil mixture over snacks and blend until coated.
- Ideally let this sit for a few hour or overnight for best flavor.
This turned out really good! So flavorful. Make sure you Pin the recipe on Pinterest so you can save it for later!
This post is part of my participation in the Netflix Stream Team #StreamTeam.