Suggest activities your children can do together, such as dressing up, arts and crafts, playing with construction toys, telling each other stories, and so on.
Nadia Gagnier recommends that you suggest activities your children can do together, such as dressing up, arts and crafts, playing with construction toys, telling each other stories, and so on. Since competition over a toy is often at the root of all bickering, she adds: “Make sure they have communal toys to encourage sharing, but also that they have toys that belong to each child.”
It’s important to keep an eye on toddlers from 2 to 3 years old, since they still don’t fully grasp the concept of sharing, which only becomes real to them at around age 4. For Michèle Lambin, learning the art of giving is key: “If his little sister wants to grab the car he just received, the eldest child needs to learn that instead of screaming or hitting her, he should say: “I don’t want you to take it, but if you ask, I’ll let you borrow it.” The day he can do that will show you that he’s growing up and learning camaraderie and generosity.” Make sure to congratulate him!
7 tips for sibling harmony
- 1. Reinforce the bonds between your children. Encourage them to play and laugh together and to laugh at each other’s antics. Also plan fun moments as a family to foster positive relationships between members (games, outings, etc.).
- 2. Spend one-on-one time with them. Spend some one-on-one time daily with each of your children. These personal moments with them will reassure them of their place in your heart.
- 3. Set clear rules. Decide what behaviour is acceptable and what isn’t, both at home and away from home. Tell them that you won’t tolerate screaming, hitting or biting. Explain to them that there will be consequences if they break the rules.
- 4. Treat them fairly. Even if you feel closer to one child, it’s best to avoid favouritism altogether. On the other hand, it’s important to recognize that each child has his own needs, which will also save you from feeling guilty if one of your children accuses you of paying too much attention to his sibling. It’s equally important to highlight the strengths and talents of each child.
- 5. Give them their own space. Whether they share a room or not, make sure they each have their own space to sleep, keep their things and play if they want to be alone. Also provide a space reserved for the eldest, which only he has access to, in case the youngest wants to get into his toys. And if the younger sibling occasionally infuriates the eldest, remind him that he was small once, too.
- 6. Set up age-appropriate schedules. Even if they are only one or two years apart, the eldest should benefit from certain “privileges,” such as a later bedtime for example.
- 7. Encourage them to have friends of their own when they’re older. If each child has their own group of friends, they won’t have to always include their brother or sister.