Fostering a good relationship between siblings

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Fostering a good relationship between siblings

One of the things that parents notice is that the relationship between their children, the sibling relationship, is a wonderful opportunity for children to develop relationship skills, including what are my boundaries in a relationship. It is interesting that siblings will often push the boundaries in that relationship much farther than they will push the boundaries in their relationship with their friends and other people. So it really gives children a chance to see how do relationships work even under pressure. And one of the things that parents can do to support that relationship is to one, hold a vision that that relationship between those children is going to be a lifelong relationship. It is going to be a resource to both of those children. I think many parents come into parenting worried about sibling rivalry or about giving each child enough time. But in fact, what is really important for those children is the relationship they have with each other. I remember when I brought my baby girl home from the hospital. Her brother was doing calisthenics or something in the living room. He jumped across her and his foot grazed her forehead. She started crying and he came to me and said Mom, I am sorry, I am sorry. And I said you need to talk to your sister about that. And so, he took his four year old hands over to her little face and he said I am sorry, Mia. Are you okay? And that point, their relationship began, a relationship where they would listen to each other, negotiate, not always easily, not always quietly. But they would negotiate until they could come up with a solution. And if we can support children in having that relationship without continuously triangulating it by saying okay, tell me what happened, tell me what happened, tell your sister what happened, tell her what you would have like to have happened, listen to what she is telling you about how she is feeling. And working to facilitate that conversation with children, knowing that at some point you are going to work yourself out of a job because they are going to be in a relationship with each other that is strong and healthy and full of effective communication.

Watch Janis Keyser, MA's video on Fostering a good relationship between siblings...


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Janis Keyser, MA

Early Childhood Education Specialist & Author

Janis Keyser currently works as a site director for a child development program in Mountain View, California. She was a full-time faculty member in the Early Childhood Education Department at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California for 30 years, teaching children, teachers and parents and coordinating a state demonstration infant toddler program. She has written a resource book for parents and one for teachers; and is a nationally recognized speaker at parenting, family and child development conferences, and has conducted workshops nationally and internationally for parents and teachers for over 35 years. She enjoys swimming, kayaking, photography, family games and cooking with friends of all ages.

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