Quite often I get compliments on how well my children get along.
My kiddos, one (soon to be 6!) has a thought process more mature than some adult males I’ve run into and the other is just a Peanut (3 years) with the body mechanics of a gymnast and the guts that is not unlike Evel Knievel*. They are close in age and their personalities are very different. How we approach my son with new situations is completely different from how we break news to my daughter.
My son is much more reserved, doesn’t like surprises (unless it’s hide n’ seek in the dark, go figure), and needs to be prepped on the weekly happenings. He thrives on knowing what’s coming and what to expect.
My daughter, on the other hand, flies by the seat of her pants. You can’t push her high enough on the swings and she loves to fully engage every part of herself into every activity. No matter how messy. While wearing a dress.
Both are sensitive to their surroundings and compassionate to people around them. I’ve witnessed my son saying “bless you!” to someone in the store and my daughter stop to ask a fallen child at the park, “you, OK?” The are very much in the learning stages of life where sharing with others, asking politely, and remembering to wash hands after potty are often forgotten and must be enforced.
And they do argue.
For the most part, we let them try to figure it out, but we occasionally need to insert ourselves when the “you’re not my friend!” comments come out or they need guidance on how to handle the problem.
Sometimes they are just irrational (as kids tend to be).
In those cases, we referee. Toys are returned to the original player, lines are drawn, and “we can put it away until later” threats come out. Whatever the situation requires. Point being: they are kids. Normal, highly active, parent-involved kids. Our days aren’t all fluffy. In fact, we get glimpses of fluffy among the chaos. Which happen to make excellent Facebook statuses.
If you had asked me to nail down one single slice of advice when it comes to raising siblings, it would be this:
Don’t take sides and encourage them to cheer each other on.
True, occasionally personalities clash so bad right out of the gate and that’s unavoidable. But there should be a level of tolerance for each other despite differences – and that has to start immediately.
When my daughter was born, we made sure my son was involved right from the start. He was involved in her care and we encouraged him to cheer her on every time she reached a new milestone. The clapping and hollering could be heard down the street when she took her first step. Now that they are older – he still cheers her on but it’s my daughter’s turn to share in our excitement when my son reads a new word or tries something out of his comfort zone (riding a bike without training wheels).
Need another tidbit of advice?
Find the time to take date nights – alone.
The first official date my son and I took was a week after having my daughter via c-section… we went roller skating. It’s important to continue this trend with every person in your immediate family. It doesn’t have to be overly planned or be overwhelming. If you’re a planner, plan. But in reality as long as you make the time it doesn’t have to be organized to death.
And by the way, going to the library or a quick ice cream cone COUNTS!
So no, I don’t really have a big secret in having my kids get along but I think it definitely plays into living wholeheartedly – encouragement, love, let down, support… get them involved in all of it. Experience these things as a family. And talk about it.
How do you get your kiddos to play nice?
*I can’t tell you how many spelling variations I came across when I googled Mr. Knievel’s name but I’m going with NY Times version.