Improving Sibling Relationships

Quite a while ago, a little girl introduced me to her baby brother. Her introduction was totally from her perspective as the big sister. She said his name and then she said he sleeps and poops a lot. That was the end of the introduction. I had to smile as she moved onto something else while her parents shared additional information about the baby brother. Siblings and sibling relationships are an important part of many families.

The relationship between siblings will last longer than any other relationship. A sibling is our first playmate. Children learn many developmental skills from their siblings. Consider the fascination of a younger sibling with their older sibling who is the “expert.” Older siblings build confidence while practicing leadership skills on a younger sibling.

Research shows that our sibling relationships play a part in how we interact with others throughout our life. A positive sibling relationship builds empathy, compassion and encourages a connection with others. There are few relationships as influential as a sibling.

Building a Positive Relationship

Encourage and foster the relationship between your children. Here are some tips to help them be friends:

  • Prioritize time for them to play together.
  • Foster teamwork. Have them work together on a project – art, cooking, building with blocks.
  • Coach and model conflict resolution.
  • Teach the importance of respect.
  • Model being a cheerleader.
  • Create a special sibling activity.
  • Emphasize the importance of family.
  • Teach them to appreciate their differences.
  • Build listening and communication skills.
  • Teach empathy.
  • Promote family activities like game night or movie night.
  • Praise them when they are getting along or cooperating.
  • Avoid comparing children or their abilities.

View complete list

As the Early Childhood Learning Coordinator, Sherry is focused on engaging young children and their families in play-based early learning experiences. The Learn & Play Bus and its service are at the heart of her work. Sherry has a background in early childhood education.