As parents we wish for our children to get along and be best friends. Like any relationship it takes work to build close relationships. Let’s look at some practical and fun ways we can foster those relationships.
1. Try to find some activities that your children can do together.
I know it can be challenging when there are age gaps, but if you are creative there is usually something that might be of interest.
- Open-ended art activities
- Sensory play
- Combine interests (playing store + space = space store)
- Toys that can be used by many ages
My boys often enjoy lego, dominos, marble runs, and imaginative play together.
2. Add in some fun family activities that get everyone laughing and feeling happy
- Dance party
- Rough housing
- Playing outside
Dance parties, sand play, “tickle monster” and “Pie in the face” with whip cream are favourites here.
3. Include siblings in caring for each other.
Encourage and teach them how to help with minor wounds or when another sibling is sick. Give them tasks that let them be helpers and comforters.
My youngest has created his own medical bag and prides himself on handing out bandaids as needed.
4. Special time for siblings.
Just as special time is important between the parent and child, it can be great for siblings too. It might work to set aside a structured regular time together. Find an activity they can enjoy, or a special project just for them. You might want to test this idea out with different sibling combinations if you have more than two kids.
My oldest and youngest have a very special bond. They love to play with stuffed animals and read together. We are helping the younger two to find some activities they both share in common to help them with their relationship.
5. Build in special rituals into your day for siblings to say good-bye or goodnight to each other.
For our family we try to remember to wish each other well on our way out the door. To pause and actually say “I hope you have fun at swimming” or whatever they are off to.
At night the older boys like to come in and help tuck in their younger brother and give him a hug.
6. Unite your kids on a mission.
This could be a special project like a card for someone, or a fun game you invent. Perhaps you want your kids to make a family video or newsletter. You can also get the kids to team up against you (in a fun way) for a water fight, or silly race. Team-work is what we are going for here.
Our favourite memories are of water fights and working together to decorate for parties together.
7. Start a family kindness journal, or notes for each other.
At the beginning of family meetings it is always recommended to start with affirmations and appreciations. You could record these to reflect on when times are more challenging.
For the month of February my boys wrote notes of appreciation and taped them to each others bedroom doors each day.