8 Ways To Help Siblings Get Along


One of the most common problems parents face is the difficulty in having their children get along harmoniously. Conflicts exist in ALL relationships because disagreements are inevitable. Hence it is unrealistic to expect our children to ALWAYS get along. However, we can help our children reduce the frequency and intensity of their conflicts by helping them build a more harmonious relationship with one another.

Here are 8 ways we can achieve that.

1) Spend Uninterrupted Time With Each Child Daily

Let each child know he has a special place in our hearts. Children who are loved and feel secure tend to fight less. Spend 15-20 minutes of uninterrupted time with each child daily. If we have little ones who nap, we can spend a little of that time to interact individually with the older ones who no longer nap. Or if our kids are older and can be left at home on their own, go to the grocery store with one of them. Or prepare a meal together. Steal little pockets of time throughout the day to spend one-on-one time with each of our children. Ask them what was difficult for them that day. Listen to how their day went. And remember to tell each and every one of them, “I love you” DAILY. Not just a cursory “love ya”, but a look-them-in-the-eye, I-am-serious, “I love you”.

2) Create An Appreciative Environment At Home

Sometimes children get so caught up in the little fights they have with their siblings they forget the goodness in one another. Create opportunities constantly for them to remind themselves how much they appreciate one another. One way to do this is to have everyone takesturns saying something appreciative or positive about everyone else in the family during dinner. Not only will the person expressing appreciation have increased feelings of positivity towards the others, the one at the receiving end feels good and appreciated. Mutual feelings of positivity increase connectedness. When there is connectedness, there is more empathy and less reason to fight.

3) Be Watchful For Positive Interaction

As the saying goes, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”. As parents, we tend to “ignore” our children when they are getting along. But when they start fighting, we would miraculously materialise to stop their fights. So sometimes children unconsciously fight to get our attention. To avoid that, take time to praise them and catch them when they are interacting and playing well together. Be on the lookout for moments when they are cooperating or helping one another and thank them for doing so. When they know they get positive attention from us when they get along, there are fewer reasons for them to fight and get our negative attention.

4) Never Compare The Child

Comparison sours relationships. The child who gets compared poorly against another child, or worse, her own sibling, will grow to resent that other child. Or the child who gets compared favourably against another child, especially her own sibling, will feel superior and behave in that manner to that other child. Either way, resentment or superiority does not support collaborative or peaceful relationships. Treat each child as the special being that she is. Acknowledge her strengths without putting down another person and develop her weaknesses without showing her up against someone else. When our children do not feel they are better or worse than another child, they will have more harmonious relationships with one another.

5) Help Them See One Another As Their Teachers

When someone irritates us, we can either choose to be frustrated, or think about what we can learn from that someone. If one child is testing the patience of another, help the other child see it as an opportunity for him to learn how to stop the “perpetrator” peacefully. AND teach the child who is irritating the other that he is learning self-control to stop being irritating. The more children learn to see others as their teachers, the more ownership they have in learning their lessons. They will stop seeing themselves as victims of others (eg “he was testing my patience”) or victims of circumstances (eg “it was a wonderful opportunity to tease him”). Helping them see one another as their teachers allow them to reduce the animosity of their fights and turn them into lessons for learning instead.

6) Stop Tattletaling

While it is helpful to have a child who toes the line and obeys all rules, it is detrimental to let that child become the rule-upholder of the family. Tattletaling hurts sibling relationships. As parents, we can thank the tattletaler for knowing the rules well but let her know that turning in her siblings betrays their trust in her. Refrain from disciplining the other children who were told upon. When we discourage tattletaling, our children will learn to trust one another more. With increased trust, their relationship will improve and they will get along better.

7) Role Model Conflict Resolution

Actions speak louder than words. To teach our children how to resolve their conflicts peacefully, we need to role model that for them. What do our children see and hear when someone cuts into our lane when we are driving? Do we curse the inconsiderate driver and blast our horn? What will our children learn instead if we wonder out loud, “That person seems to be in a hurry. We can let him go ahead of us.” Or “I wish I can let that person cut in, but we’re really in a big hurry.” Our children are also watching our day-to-day interaction at home. What do we do when we have a disagreement with our spouse? Do we shout our point of view and slam doors in frustration? Or do we talk calmly over our differences? Children pick up our responses to conflicts very rapidly. When we role model how to get along with others, our children will learn it quickly and naturally.

8) Rethink Punishments, Especially Corporal Punishments

Corporal punishment means inflicting physical pain on someone for something they have done wrong. When we inflict pain on our children for their wrongdoing, we are teaching them to do likewise to those whom they think have done something wrong to them. Let us correct misbehavior peacefully and lovingly so our children can learn how to do likewise. Like role modeling conflict resolution, the way we discipline our children teaches them how to “discipline” others, especially their siblings.

How do you help your children get along?

– Vivian –


12 Ways to Connect with Your Teen

Parenting the teen years in many ways is challenging. The teens have developed an identity for themselves. They spend less time at home and become less communicative. Very often, their friends mean more to them and have a greater influence over them than their parents. Children do not naturally shun talking with their parents. They are “trained” to stop talking to their parents because they feel that their parents are not interested in what they have to say or that their parents do not understand them. So here are 12 ways you can establish your link with your teen so he/she feels more connected with you and becomes more willing to communicate with you.

1) Be Interested In Your Teen

Continue to show an interest in your teen and his life. Be genuinely interested in what he has to say.  Ask him to tell you about his friends or his interests. Ask him open-ended questions that encourage more conversation rather than questions requiring only “Yes” or “No” answers. Let the conversations be about him, not the homework he needs to get done, or why he did not do what you asked him to. Engage in conversations that do not put him on the defensive. By and by, your teen will feel safe enough to share more about himself with you. The more interested you are in your teen and the more you encourage him to communicate with you without judgment on your part, the less he feels the need to hide things from you, the more open he will be with you.

2) Be Available

Put down your phone. Give your teen 100% of your attention. It may not be a convenient time, but do your best anyway. Every time you turn your child away when she wants to talk to you, you train her to stop talking to you. So minimize turning her away when she wants to talk. If you are never available when she wants to tell you the small stuff, you can be certain she will NEVER come to you and tell you the big stuff.  Be sensitive to your teen’s body language. Sometimes she may have something to say but is hesitant. When you are attuned to your child, you will pick it up. Then gently rope her into a conversation and do your best to put all distractions aside. When you show your teen you are available when she needs you, you are building the link for her to come to you when she REALLY needs you.

3) Hold The Advice

Sometimes, teens just want someone to listen to them. When your teen shares his angst with you, hold whatever advice you may have at the tip of your tongue. Just listen, don’t advise. Acknowledge how he feels and bite your tongue. You can ask him questions to help him clarify his thoughts or help him look at the issue from a different perspective. Help him to come up with a solution himself. And when your teen doesn’t feel you are trying to tell him what to do, but are respecting him to come up with his own solutions, he will be more willing to communicate with you.  The best part is, by not jumping in to provide advice or solution, you are helping your teen develop guiding questions to ponder whenever he faces a problem. And that is teaching him to fish for life.

4) Show Affection Daily

Give your teen a hug or a kiss, but definitely not in public unless she doesn’t mind it. If hugging and kissing are not expressions of affection in your family, give her a back rub or an affectionate pat on the back. Tell her “I love you”.  Make her her favourite meal. Buy her a gift with no strings attached. Or perhaps, bring your teen out for a special date and spend time with her. Just because she has grown up to be a young adult does not mean she does not crave for affection from you. Take every opportunity you have with your teen to show her your love. And no, discipline and punishment, while out of goodwill and concern for your teen, do not come across as acts of affection. When your teen feels your affection for her, she develops an emotional connection with you and knows she can count on you anytime, especially in times of difficulty. And that encourages her to be more open and communicative with you.

5) Let Your Teen Know You Are Proud Of Her  

It is human instinct to be drawn closer to those who approve of us.  The reason why teens tend to be drawn closer to their friends is because they feel accepted by their friends.  Does your teen feel you are proud of him? Does he hear you praising him more often than you giving him a piece of your mind?  Does he feel safe to come to you if he is in trouble?  Other than showing him affection, let him know you approve of him and believe in him.  Tell him you accept him as he is and will support him in his endeavours.  If he is a performer, turn up for his performances.  If he is a sportsman, cheer him at his sports games.  And should he stumble and fall,  encourage him and gently help him pick himself up. When he makes a mistake, do not pounce on him.  Instead, let him know you are by his side and will help him through the difficult times.  Let him know you believe in the goodness in him and help him to do the right thing to make amends.  When your teen sees you are with him through thick and thin, he will naturally be drawn to you and feel connected with you.

6) Give Your Teen Freedom

Acknowledge that your teen is no longer a young child. Treat her as the young adult that she is. Give her freedom. Do not helicopter parent her. The tighter you hold on to the rein, the harder she will struggle to get out of it. If you are concerned about her safety, talk to her about it. Share your concerns with her and encourage her to address your concerns with the plans she has.  This is the time your teen needs to learn how to extend her wings to take flight. Show her how to fly safely. Do not clip her wings or she will either fail to learn how to soar when she becomes an adult, or worse, go somewhere else to learn how to fly and pick up bad habits along the way. The irony is the more freedom you give your teen, the less she finds the need to stay away from you.  So let go of your apron string and you may be surprised to find your teen hanging around you more.

7) Spend Time Together

Such a precious resource time is. And precisely because it is a precious resource, you need to spend it with your family, your child. Do fun activities together once in a while. Go camping, watch a sport together, go on vacations. Spending time together builds common memories and shared experiences. You have something common to talk about for years to come. It also helps you know each other better. And when your teen feels you know and understand him, he will become more open and willing to communicate with you.

8) Create Rituals To Connect

Other than spending time together, having some rituals help you to connect better. It could be a monthly date night with your teen. It could be a Friday night ice-cream. Or even regular weekend brunch with the whole family. Something consistent, something your teen knows will be a time for connection. This is even more important if your work takes you away from home for long hours or long periods of time. Creating these rituals will help you carve out time for each other. And for all you know, it could be something your teen looks forward to, knowing you will be there for her. Like spending time together, this creates shared memories and helps you and your teen understand each other better. And with increased understanding, communication links open up.

9) Do Something Meaningful Together

More than just spending time together, when we are doing something meaningful together, it gets imprinted more deeply in our memories. What could be meaningful time together? It could be doing volunteer work and helping the less fortunate. It could be chipping in and helping to do housework TOGETHER. It could even be a family project of picking up trash while hiking through a park or the beach. When the family contributes together for a common good, the bond gets stronger.

10) Ask Your Teen To Teach You Something

What is your teen good at? Programming? Orienteering? Rock Climbing? Music? Ask him to teach you a little of what he knows. Let him take the lead and be the teacher. There is no greater compliment to a child than having his parents be interested in what he is good at AND having him show them. At the end of it, you may even like it so much you grow your expertise in it. Then you’d have even more common grounds to talk to your teen. However, if at the end of it, you decide you are really not cut out for what he is teaching you, the fact you asked your teen to teach conveys your acknowledgment of his expertise. That helps him feel more connected with you.

You may think your teen is not good at anything enough to teach you. Well, then let your teen take the lead in doing something. It could be letting her plan a family day out and everyone going along with her plan. It could be letting her decide on a family vacation and itinerary (with a budget given) and letting her be the tour guide. It could even be a family movie marathon night and your teen gets to choose all the movies. Whatever it is, let your teen lead and you follow. When you do that, you are telling her “I trust you” and that helps her to trust you in return.

11) Get To Know Your Teen’s Friends

Your teen’s social circle is the key influencer in his life. To understand him, you need to know who his friends are. Invite your teen’s friends over for meals or have him bring along a friend on family outing or vacation. You may get to see a side of your teen you have never seen at home. Sometimes, there may be things he is unwilling to tell you directly (eg boy-girl relationships), but will do so indirectly through his conversations with his friends. Through interactions with your teen and his friends, you share even more common grounds with your teen. It helps you allay some fears you might have when you know who he is hanging out with. It also helps you be more sensitive when he shares problems he has with his friends.

12) Be In Touch With Your Teen’s Online World

Connect with your teen.  Ask if you can be her friend on her social media platform.  That is where she shows the world who she is.  And the most important thing when you are there is you do not stop her from being who she is.  You are there as an observer and friend.  Do not at any time “discipline” her online for that will guarantee you being booted out before you can say “Facebook”.  Send her text messages, whatsapp her to let her know you are thinking of her (NOT keeping track of her).  It is extremely important to touch base with your teen to let her know she is on your mind, that she is important to you.  When she feels she truly matters to you and that you care about who she really is, she will be more willing to open up to you.

So there you have it, 12 ways to connect with your teen. How do you connect with your teen? Do share it with us in the comments section.

If you have found this blog useful, please share it with your friends.  Thanks!

– Vivian –