So my boys, 29 months apart, are the best of friends but also the best of enemies. They’re friends for like an hour but enemies the rest of the day. They’d be shouting because they’re having so much but they’d also be screaming at each other because they could no longer agree with how their “play” is going. Most probably because the older one is teasing the younger one or the younger one is snatching toys from the older one, and as it turns out I’m almost always correct even if I’m in the other room. This has actually been their routine and the reason why they couldn’t last an hour having fun…
And because I’m the one who pretty much spends most of the time with them, I end up being the referee.
While it is expected for siblings to fight, I don’t want them to grow with hostile feelings with each other. I know they’re too young to hold grudges but if this fighting-every-now-and-then couldn’t be kept at bay while they’re still young, chances are they would grow apart. I’ve witnessed it with my brothers first-hand. I want them to show respect, understanding and kindness to each other while they’re still toddlers, and eventually, would learn to protect each other at school and care for one another whenever necessary.
Here they are posing for my sister who is so fond of taking photos of them:
As with every parent out there, I just want my boys to be lifelong best friends. I believe that growing up together doesn’t guarantee lifelong friendship, but there is always a way to make it happen.
Having kids who are best friends is not too much to ask, right? But how are we suppose to do that?
Good news is, we parents of multiple kids have some good science to back us up. Did a little research and here’s what I got:
Treat kids fairly
Kids, from a very young age, are already observing how their own relationship with their parents is compared to those of their siblings. This doesn’t mean we have to treat each child exactly the same with the other, but we need to let our kids see and feel that our differential treatment is FAIR.
“When kids believe that their parents are treating them fairly relative to their sibling(s)—parents show similar levels of affection, praise, and discipline, for example—sibling relationships are more positive.”
Don’t play favorites
This goes with the previous step, nothing will make our children dislike each other more than competing for attention and knowing it’s a competition they would never win. We need to recognize each of our children as individuals; encouraging their differences and individual likes and dislikes.
We need to be with them while resolving their disputes but not taking sides in their tiffs. As with anything else, let’s speak positively despite our anger and don’t compare them.
Communicate all the time
While it is okay to let siblings learn to resolve arguments on their own, it is our duty as parents to help them learn to communicate positively. For instance, given that my 3-year-old son still can’t speak straight, I talk to my 4-year old son whenever there’s something the younger one wants to say or do with him together, like play basketball outside
Respect personal space
But if PJ (4-year-old) doesn’t want to play with Bien (3-year old), then I explain to the latter one that his “kuya” wants to have his “own-me-time”.
It is important that parents provide each child their own personal space, and teach them to respect their sibling’s space. In some cases, that may mean they wouldn’t want to be bothered or interrupted even if they are in the same room.
Finally, brainwash them
I’m not exactly sure if this is going to work but one mommy blogger namely Amanda White does this. When her children were young (and it was easy), she made them give each other hugs and say, “I love you!” before bed. On a regular basis she says she tells them, “She’s your best friend!” and “You will be best friends forever!” “And you know what?” she writes. “They believe it!”