5 Family Secrets to Building Strong Sibling Bonds
Why can’t they just get along?
Families want siblings to be close. Which parent has not seen bickering and constant teasing between their children, and other negative behavior and despaired, thinking that their children will never get along. Close ties between children seems to be the test of successful parenting. Parents believe that close sibling relationships will benefit their children all their lives. So what can you do to help create those bonds?
For my parents, with seven children 17 years apart from oldest to youngest, reading together was the secret to making close relationships. For me, being the oldest girl and the second of seven, I am closest to the youngest 3 children in the family; the ones that I read to on a daily basis. Here are five ways that reading together forged strong sibling bonds in my family.
Try these 5 things that helped our family build strong sibling bonds
1. SHARE FAMILY TIME
Read to your children together as opposed to giving each separate reading time. This might seem to go against the concept of creating special individual time for each child. However, when parents read to children together, they give them shared quality family time. Bedtime reading results in laughter, as kids learn about purple giraffes, far away fairylands and unusual journeys. Each child will remember the fun bedtimes they shared with siblings when they were young.
2. DEVELOP THEIR SHARED INTEREST IN READING
Siblings develop different interests even as children. Parents nightly reading to kids though will result in the shared enjoyment of reading. With this approach, siblings will share a reading interest that will last a lifetime despite other interests that differ.
3. BELOVED CHARACTERS SHARED IN FAVORITE BOOKS
Reading to children is good for their development for many reasons. But did you know that reading books to your children together results in their having a shared book experience. While siblings might not end up having all the same favorites, siblings will all know the same books and love the same characters. Shared reading experiences are like shared foods and vacations. Get a group of people together and start talking children’s books and smiles will instantly appear as they recount their favorite childhood stories. Stories that become family favorites in our house were the Dr. Zeuss stories, Heidi, Madeline and Little Women. What are some of the stories that became family favorites in your family?
4. GIVE OLDER AND YOUNGER SIBLINGS SPACE WITHOUT MOM
Older children in big families can read to their younger siblings nightly. Whether reading separately or jointly, the children will always remember fondly the person that introduced them to princesses, magical quests and animal stories. I was often found asleep in the bed of one of my younger sisters after reading to them. I also snuck cookies or other snacks to any sibling who was dispatched to their bedroom as a punishment. The giggles resulting from “Don’t tell Mom I brought you these snacks!” created close bonds. With a nine, ten and thirteen-year age difference between us, reading together gave us shared time that our different ages and interests might have otherwise prevented.
5. HOW TO KEEP BONDS STRONG ACROSS TOWN, THE COUNTRY OR THE WORLD.
When living apart in later years, siblings can share stories with each other. When I lived across the country from my parents and siblings, books bridged the distance. I chose a book each year as the Hurley Christmas Book, and each sibling had to read it on Christmas Eve so that we would share the holiday through books.
Whilst there are many reasons why siblings may not become close to each other, doing the things I’ve talked about will help build shared interests, good memories and shared fun. Those things translate to strong sibling ties. What things have you done with your family which produced close siblings? Anything you were sure would work but failed? Sharing your personal stories will help us all learn what works and what doesn’t.
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