6 TIPS TO FOSTER A STRONG SIBLING BOND
Most of us grew up with a sibling or more. We came from a generation where parents are more willing to have more kids. But when it came to my generation, when we became parents, we ‘studied’ too much into the whole parenthood wagon. We had more considerations, too many ideals, and those stopped us from wanting too many kids, or any at all. Common ‘excuse’, “TOO EXPENSIVE TO RAISE A KID IN SINGAPORE”. Sure, if you want him to go to Eton House Kindergarten . Sure, if you want him to dress in branded only apparels. Sure, if he requires two nanny, two maid, a dozen private tutors and a driver. Sure, if you want to give him the best material you could or couldn’t. But really, does your child need all of those ‘materials’?
I’m not sure what your child need, but my children need love, affection, care, hugs, kisses, attention, and above all, my time. The rest are good to have but not necessary. I was once the kind of parent who wanted only one child because I felt raising a kid in Singapore was too expensive. Our parents persuaded us to have a second child. “Ling (that’s how they call me), it’s nice to have a sibling. You want your child to have company right? A relationship with a cousin or friend will never be the same as one with a sibling. Turst me.” said our folks. And they were right.
Though we didn’t plan for #2, he came and we couldn’t have been more happy. Sonia has a little brother to dote on and we have another gem to love!
Do you know, sibling relationship is often the longest, and certainly one of the most important relationships a person will have in life?
I’m very consoled to see how affectionate and loving Sonia is to Arnold and vice versa. They would give each other plenty of hugs and kisses, share food and toys (though not all the time), and watch out for each other. Strangers we met at cafes, playgrounds, or just along the street would stop to ask “how you teach your daughter to love her brother huh” or “wah, jie jie so guai, she shares her biscuits with didi, how you teach her to share”, etc. Thank you, thank you, I am very proud of my kids and am very flattered but I wouldn’t give myself much credit in teaching them to share. Yes, I often tell them “sharing taste better”, but it wasn’t me who taught them how to share, they just did. But are they always this nice and lovey? Not all the time. There were moments when both refused to budge or share. There were moments when they kicked a fuss over who gets to play with the toy first, and both started crying. That’s where I come in to mitigate their disputes. It is important that I do this properly, appropriately, and correctly, because my doings may affect the siblings’ relationship. We parents play a key role in nurturing good sibling relationship and reducing sibling rivalry and conflict. Here’s how.
6 TIPS TO FOSTER A STRONG SIBLING BOND
1. PLAY AS A FAMILY
This strengthens the family bond and kids who learns to value family as a whole, will value their siblings more. Through playing, teach your kids how to play fair, and how to win/lose with grace. This promotes a healthier relationship, not only within the family but also with their peers. Spend more time playing with your kids when they are young because they won’t be playing with you as often as you like when they grow older. The more effort you put in early, the better they will play together later on in life. Family who have fun together will be less likely to have conflict.
2. DO NOT COMPARE YOUR CHILDREN TO TEACH EACH OTHER
I’m guilty of that but I’m trying to stop comparing them. Try not to say things like “Arnold has finished his dinner, why are you taking so long?”, or “Why can’t you listen as well as your brother does?”. These might backfired and build resentment. Not a good idea.
3. TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO APPRECIATE THEIR DIFFERENCE
Every child is different and when there are difference, conflict will naturally occur. It is thus important to teach your kids to respect each others differences, and love each other anyway. For example, if Sonia wants to do painting and crafting while Arnold wants to go for a swim, I will work something out together with them on how to take turns or find other common activities that both kids have interest in. This is not easy, especially if your kids are only 1+ and 3+ year-old, but I still try to talk some sense to them, hoping they understands. Sonia, being the older sister, is more understanding and accommodating. In fact, most of the time, she willingly gave way to Arnold and put her ‘favourite’ activities on hold for him.
4. HAVE THEM WORK ON CHORES AS A TEAM
One way to get the siblings build a sense of teamwork and cooperation among themselves, is to make them work together. I always make my kids do “cleaning up” (clear their toys) together. They would race with hub and I to see who gets the job done faster. My goal is to have them working together towards a common goal.
5. EDUCATE AND REMIND THEM ABOUT THE LIMITATIONS OF YOUNGER SIBLINGS
Regardless of the age difference, developmental differences are bound to cause conflict between siblings. It is important to help your children understand why their younger siblings are not able to do or understand certain things. Explain to them that they were once in that phase and we all need to be understanding.
6. TEACH THEM TO RESPECT
Respect is essential to building good relationships, whether it’s between siblings, friends or partners. Remind them to treat others the way they want to be treated. Be considerate to others’ feeling. Be kind and helpful. Do not put other’s down and be mindful not to take things without asking for permission. Always knock on the door before entering.