Encouraging friendships between your children is a natural goal as a parent.
As a parent, it is a beautiful thing to witness friendships emerging between your children.
It’s everything you ever hoped for when your family started to grow. Giving your children the gift of friendship may have been important to you long before any subsequent children came along.
You may have been lucky enough to have a great friendship with your own sibling
or in some cases, the very opposite may be true. You’re growing a little army and friendship amongst them is a top priority for you.
Encouraging friendships between your children is a natural goal as a parent. It makes for better overall family harmony and it’s really nice to know that they will help and support each other during those times that you may not be able to.
In some cases, friendships naturally occur between siblings. They may have a common hobby or personality trait that makes it really easy to enjoy spending time together.
Quite often the defining factor could be something totally practical such as sharing a room with a sibling. Sharing a room (or indeed not sharing a room) could be a very powerful force in shaping a friendship.
It can work really well to encourage a room share and in other cases, a relationship thrives on the fact that they both have their own space and can spend time together on their own terms.
The reality is that there is no secret recipe to guarantee a friendship between your children. You might notice that certain siblings gravitate towards each other naturally and in the same way, those relationships can change just as quickly.
A sibling relationship can be drastically different in adulthood for example. Two people who consistently bickered as children could grow to be extremely close as adults and the opposite can occur too, unfortunately.
In general, there are some things which can help to encourage a positive relationship between siblings. The hope is that these relationships will turn in to friendships that will last a lifetime.
1. Try not to compare them to each other. One might be academic while the other is sporty. Encouragement may be construed as a comparison and this can breed resentment among siblings. Encourage individuality where possible.
2. Try not to label your children based on their behaviour. Age or life experience may dictate a certain kind of behaviour but this is often temporary. If a child is repeatedly told that they are a certain way then they will start to believe it. In fact, they are likely to strive towards it as it gives them a sense of identity.
3. Try to encourage family days out and eating together as a unit. In this day and age, it is so easy to lose the art of meaningful conversation and in-person connections. Spending positive time together as a family can really encourage friendships to form in a natural way.
4. Insist on respect in the house. They won’t always get along and they certainly won’t always agree but respecting each other should be a given.
5. Try to highlight any kindness or positives in their relationships when you notice them. They might just need a reminder sometimes.
6. When siblings are playing nicely together try not to interrupt if at all possible. This is prime friendship-building territory.
7. Put the children in charge of a project together. It could be present-buying or a chore in the house. It will encourage teamwork and communication.
8. Try not to get involved in their disputes unless it is necessary. It may appear that you are taking sides or in many cases, it may simply escalate it. It is healthy for children to learn to compromise and work through their disagreements.
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.