Saturday, October 27, 2012

* Avoiding Sibling Rivalry and Encouraging Sibling Friendships with Play

One thing you may not know about me is that I'm an only child.
Deciding to have two kids was a huge leap of faith for me. 
I didn't want our oldest daughter to grow up alone, I wanted her to have 
a sibling but I was scared to death about how to parent two kids
and how to avoid sibling rivalry.
Well, flash forward into year 10 of my parenting journey
and year 6 of raising two daughters and I have to say it's better than 
I thought it would be and there will always be sibling rivalry no matter what I do. 
That doesn't mean I'm off the hook as a parent to not interfere when 
the girls fight, bicker, or bully each other -- I certainly do step in and let 
them know it won't be tolerated but I also try my best to encourage them to 
work things out on their own when they can (a useful life skill later in life.) 
One way I do this, is to encourage my daughters to be friends with each other.

This was hard at first, there is a 4 year age difference between my girls. 
When "C" was a baby, "E" (age 4) was really not a big fan of hers.
She put up with her and let us know pretty regularly that she liked it better
when she was "an only child." It was not an easy process.

Fortunately, "C" worshipped "E" and eventually she won her over. 
She smiled first for "E." If I needed a photo of "C", 
I just asked "E" to stand behind me and she would always light up for the camera. 
"E"s name was her first word other than "Cat" and before "Mama." 
Once "C" was mobile, they started to play together.

They not only became playmates but also best friends. 
How did I get them to get along?
I wish I had a secret recipe for success that I could share, this is pretty close...
I just read an article on Mom's Homeroom about 
It is spot-on in explaining that siblings need to learn how to cooperate
and that it isn't an easy process. By setting up classroom-tested
and curriculum-based games for your children, they will learn how 
to play cooperatively with friends and siblings just like they do at school. 

What kinds of activities? 
I will say that I got them to play together and the activities
we shared encouraged their friendship and bonding.
Without realizing it, I did most of the things on the list in this article.
Here are some examples from the MSN article: 

with tiny jars and cotton balls with herbs/perfume/extracts.

Create a Child's Play Area in the Garden/Backyard-
our backyard has several kid friendly play areas 
including their own fairy gardens.

Encourage Artful Collaborations and Craft time together - 
yep, we have that one covered.

Making Life-Size MuralsBody Tracing (my girls love this!)

Build Something Together - Blocks, need I say more?!

Imaginative Role Play with Props 
(Set up pretend businesses, hospital, restaurant, etc)

Toys that have to be shared, such as....
Blocks, Trains, Musical Instruments, Puzzles and Puppets
Dress- Up Clothes and in our house.... Sensory Boxes! 

Reading Children's Books Together

How do you encourage your kids to play together?

Pink and Green Mama
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