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Do your kids drive you nuts with all of their bickering and blaming? Family dynamics are not something we can easily control, since it is unlikely everyone in the family had a say of who came into the world and when they arrived. For us, it was the first moment that the accurate pregnancy test showed a positive symbol that we knew we would be creating a new life, and therefore, new relationships in our family.
With children, they are put into a new role with relationships that they may not be too sure about. They have no say whether they are the firstborn, middle, or youngest child–and all the advantages, disadvantages, expectations, and stereotypes that come along with those ingrained titles.
We can help our kids deal with the stress of being a sibling by teaching them that, despite the aggravations and sibling rivalry, it is really beneficial if they can learn to express gratitude toward their brothers and sisters. This is not always an easy task since siblings can drive each other nuts, but there are several helpful coping methods and exercises that reinforce the benefits of having a sibling, as well as being one.
Your child may feel stress at the thought of no longer being the only child or the youngest in the family when a new baby arrives. With their different position in the family, be sure to emphasize the leadership role that they will now take on as a guide to the ins and outs of the family dynamics. Refrain from pointing out that activities they do will be their “last time” as this can cause them to feel that they are losing something as they get older. Help them understand how wonderful it is that they will now be a mentor to their baby brother or sister as they grow up together in the same home. Give them plenty of opportunities to learn new skills and to be a leader.
Enjoy A Playmate
The best part of having a sibling is that there is always a built-in playmate ready to have some fun. Learning how to ride a bike, tie a shoe, or create an imaginary world is far more enjoyable when you have someone to explore and create with. Encourage your kids to play together, whether it be running around outside or when they are stuck indoors during a rainy or cold day. Remind them to be thankful for each other and that they always have a special playmate right here in their family.
Tap Into A Support System
Children should grow up knowing that they always have someone to count on. While we may be a steady figure in their lives, their siblings are closest to them on their own peer level. Show them that no matter what they are dealing with, there will always be another kid who has their perspective as well as their back. Teach your children to rely on each other and always support each other. Having that close bond creates a natural support system that will provide them with the most understanding ally hopefully throughout their lives.
When a child is going through a challenging time like being bullied or adjusting to a new school, they will always have their sibling to turn to, despite whatever the outside world may throw at them. Failed friendships can also cause sadness or anxiety, but having a sibling to rely on alleviates so much of the stress that comes along with those social ups and downs.
Offset The Bad
While there will be fights between siblings, they do not need to destroy a home or family. Your children should learn that they will be different than their siblings, but they should always remain grateful for them and their relationships. Use this time to teach your family to acknowledge that while they may get frustrated at times, they should always remain thankful for the love that surrounds them.
You can continue to encourage a sense of bonding between brothers and sisters by planning fun family activities. Volunteer together to help those less fortunate, exercise, enjoy the outdoors by hiking or camping, travel, and get creative. One idea is to make a gratitude jar where you list positive attributes about one another. Be sure to create gratitude lists throughout the year in which each child notes what they are thankful for, including a specific nod to each family member. You can have a blast reading them around the dinner table. Finally, add a gratitude prayer to your children’s bedtime routine and suggest that they occasionally include their siblings in what they are thankful for. Surprisingly, my children express gratitude for one another more than I could ever dream of!
To learn more about teaching your kids how to express gratitude read My Grateful Book by Diana Smith and check out this post 15 Creative Ways For Children To Express Gratitude.
What ways do you encourage your children to be thankful for their siblings?