Sibling Relationship : How Do I Manage?


“Having one child makes you a parent, having two a referee”


The popular T.V host, journalist and a writer ‘David Frost’ couldn’t have said it better. The sibling relationship has always been a fascination for me because of its changing dynamics across ages. It is more layered than a parent child relationship because the siblings know more and identify with each other on multiple levels because of the common upbringing practices.

We all have seen good and bad sibling relationships and sometimes as a parent we inevitably feel wonderful seeing the bonding between our kids. which more often than not goes through usual ups and downs and is not a concern, however there are times when we feel doing something to make it even better or to facilitate the process of transitioning when one child is going through teenage and the other is still much younger.

While researching for the topic I spoke to many mothers and realised that they do feel a need to be able to do more to make the sibling journey better but apart from the universal “Don’t compare” technique there is not much available for the same. I also spoke to few mothers who are doing it better than others and with their input added with my research and personal experiences, I would like to share these pointers which might help us parents in making this relationship fulfilling and long lasting.


1. Be A Role Model:

This holds true in all parenting styles across all the continents. If you are a gentle soul, the chances are that your kids would appreciate empathy, if you are pro life your child in all probability will be one, if you are a manipulator you are likely to have one in your house. Such encounters with truth gives us lot of perspective and are also true for our relationships including the one of our children with the siblings. How often do you visit your brother or sister, how often do you call or appreciate his calling, what kind of equation do you share with them clearly indicates the kind of relationship you are fostering for your children too. So if you know you are lacking there, you can always pick up that phone and make plans.

2. Share Interesting Stories About Your Childhood:

Not just any story, though children would appreciate all kinds but stories where you along with your siblings did some funny, crazy whacky thing and how it became the indelible imprint in your minds. You could also share your emotions when you were kids and how at some times you used to feel all kind of emotions for your siblings and how in the long run they turned out to be your true friends or well wishers. Sharing such insights not only gives you some emotional connect with the children but also gives them relief to come to terms with their changing emotions for their brother or sister.


3. Plan Team Games:

I am sure you all have heard of corporate games where the employees indulge in team building exercises every now and then to identify themselves as one team or the actors and actresses attending workshops or spending time together to get that connection right on the screen, the idea is to also induce and plan some activities consciously to promote healthy relationship among siblings. You can introduce this strategy in any game that kids love to play and all you will have to do is to make sure that the siblings are in the same team and the rest in others. It might not  always be possible but try and do such activities every now and then. The good part is when you know you belong to a team, you start relating, justifying your team mates’ actions and empathising with them more. Good for us 🙂


4. Promote A Sense Of Responsibility:

We are living in an individualistic society and increasingly seeing the same in the movies that we watch or the people that we meet. While we too want our kids to have an individual say in everything but putting his choices in the context of the family is also very important because studies suggest that Children who have a strong sense of being part of a family are likely to see siblings as an extension of themselves and not as competitors. So promoting a sense of responsibility not just for the sibling but also for other members of the society will go a long way in promoting healthy relationship among siblings.

I also read somewhere that without parental guidance, siblings with bad relationships are likely to grow into adults with bad relationships. The more they are allowed to fight as kids, the more likely they are to fight as adults. so while intervening is not a good thing to do but not doing it altogether have its drawbacks too.

By encouraging team work, indulging in sharing stories and giving children the power or technique to work out conflicts in a constructive way, we can help them develop a good relationship that will carry them through the rest of their lives.