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Adults have to share their lives and living space with other people; family, friends, spouses or spouse equivalents, children, roommates. Unfortunately, even people you love can be a pain, (especially when you share a bathroom). So where do kids learn to deal with people they love but who drive them crazy? You need look no further than their annoying, beloved brother or sister. Sibling relationships provide your child with their first lessons about how to handle the more difficult aspects of long term, intimate relationships. Here are some ideas about how to help your kid get the most out of a few of the more important things siblings learn about sharing your life with someone.
Love and support: “Oh My God. You are the BEST!”
Siblings teach each other about love and being loved, how to encourage and be encouraged. Help this along by requiring your kids to offer each other compliments and support. Have verbal and physical expressions of love and affection be a natural (and required) part of family interactions.
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Cooperation and team work: “Oh My God. If mom and dad find out we are DEAD!”
Kids don’t get to choose their siblings (kind of like you don’t get to choose your coworkers) but they still have to work together. You can help your kids practice team work by assigning them tasks to complete together (even though it would be less trouble to just keep them in separate rooms). If they argue or complain just add more tasks. You might be able to get the whole house cleaned in one weekend AND teach them an important skill!
Tolerance: “Oh My God! You are such a LOSER!”
Kids always think their brother or sister is weird. But unlike the kids at school, they can’t just avoid this weird person when they live in the same house. Siblings have to learn to deal. Expect your kids to practice tolerance and acceptance of each other’s unique qualities, habits or interests. Make a comment when you notice them being tolerant with their sibling. “I was really glad you let your brother talk on and on about that silly show. That’s the kind of big sister I hoped you’d be.”