Sure, sometimes siblings are going to fight over who’s hogging too much room on the couch, stealing their ball or taking too long on the swings. But when they crack each other up with knock-knock jokes, make up a new dance together or snuggle at bedtime, there’s nothing sweeter. Here, Q Wunder creator Sofia Dickens talks to What’s Up Moms about how to shake sibling rivalry — and help your kids learn to not just get along but love hanging out together.

No tattling.

Instead of stepping in every time one of your kids comes to you with a complaint about their sibling, try stepping back instead. Tell them “You guys are on the same team. You can figure this out.” The exception? Someone getting hurt. In other words, “You can tell on your brother or sister to get out of trouble, but never to get them in trouble.” Let your kids know hitting, biting, kicking or otherwise hurting someone will not be tolerated, and if they see that behavior (or are on the receiving end of it), they should tell you right away. Anything else, let the kids resolve it themselves.

 

Encourage your kids to take care of each other.

Research shows that when a child takes care of a sibling, it builds powerful emotional bonds between them. And kids love the chance to feel grown up. Encourage older sibs to help younger ones by doing things like reading to them, helping them get dressed or teaching them to play a game. Little ones can also help bigger brothers or sisters — for example, sharing toys, pouring cereal for them or getting them a Band-Aid when they skin a knee.

 

Let them be bored together.

We get it — sometimes it’s easier just to turn on a show or hand them your phone. But when kids have to make their own fun, they learn to get creative and work together. Watch as they make up a new version of tag, build a secret hideout from blankets and pillows, or put on a show starring their stuffed animals. After all, they’re not just playing, they’re becoming pals for life.

 

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