Healthy Sibling Relationships
Your sibling is an important person in your life.
Posted Apr 26, 2014
Did you know that research has shown that healthy sibling relationships can significantly benefit us later in life? Those with positive sibling relationships report higher life satisfaction and lower rates of depression later in life. Also in times of illness and traumatic events, siblings provide emotional, social, and psychological support to each other. Research shows that this support is common regardless of whether they live next to or far away from each other.
Three reasons why sibling relationships are very important:
1. Friendships may come and go, but you’re stuck with your sibling. This relationship is oftentimes one of the longest relationships in a person’s life.
3. Our siblings are our family tree. They are a part of who we are and that relationship is a shared history that makes this unique relationship invaluable.
So while all of this may sound nice, how do you encourage and promote a healthy sibling relationship?
- Start early. Parents encourage respect among siblings from the get go. Don’t tolerate negative and harmful behaviors in the sibling relationship.
- Provide your children with opportunities to share time and activities with you. Be wary of sibling rivalry and try to “nip it in the bud” if you see it beginning to occur.
- Avoid showing favoritism. This is probably the most common reason for sibling resentment. Let your children know that you value each and every one of themby making one-on-one time for each child. Set aside some time to spend with your children. This will help them feel special and appreciated.
- Set a time for family meetings (weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly). Get together with all of the family to talk freely about grievances, issues, and celebrations. Give each person a chance to speak about what’s on his/her plate and then focus on finding solutions to the problems.
- Encourage healthy communication between siblings. If they have disagreements allow them to work it out in a healthy way. Teach them how to negotiate and compromise (give and take) and how to look for win-win solutions. You may have to help them establish the rules and guide them at first, but once they are able to do it on their own, stand back.
- As children get older, encourage them to maintain a relationship or to do things together. This can become more of a task when they are teens and have independent lives, but a little family time built into each month is a great way to encourage this relationship.
Conger K, Little W. Sibling relationships during the transition to adulthood. Child Development Perspectives. 2010;4:87–94.
Ohio State University: http://fcs.osu.edu/sites/fcs/files/unprotected/families/stages-of-life/a...