I feel overly obligated to start by saying I don’t have the whole “loving siblings” thing figured out and that if having 5 kids has taught me anything it’s that they’re all different with varying needs, personalities and relationship dynamics. BUT I do think we’ve done a few things that have helped strengthen bonds between our kids. Whether or not it will payoff in the long run will forever be an open verdict but for now they’ve made our home mostly pleasant and silly with lots of sweet sibling moments sprinkled in. What’s helped more than anything is taking the time to notice what works for each kid — just like love languages and such, each of our kids seem to be influenced differently — so I thought I would break up my tips and ideas based on what works for each of our babes!
HELP OR ENCOURAGE LOVE NOTES + JOURNALS | This is HUGE for Tilly and I think overall there is something so freeing and powerful about being able to jot down your thoughts and sentiments. She’s always slipping notes under doors and crafting mailboxes and envelopes for us to return the favor. This past fall, all the kids wrote letters to Ozzie for his 18th Birthday and I think I cried over all of them. However, it doesn’t have to be fancy — a simple post it note will do!
POINT OUT THE MOMENTS + THE MEMORIES | This is Ozzie all the way. Show him a picture of him and his siblings, remind him of a story, talk about how they’re the same or different, and point out the MOMENTS of bonding that mean so much, like “how awesome is it that you can work together on (fill in the blank)” or “Gosh you guys are such a fun pair!”
FRIENDSHIP OVER SIBLINGSHIP | Swap out “little brother/sister” and “big brother/sister” for “friend” (okay, maybe not all the time!). For example, “gosh your being such a good friend to Poppy!” Griffin (the most high maintenance of the sibs) eats this up! Probably because he’s 4th in the lineup and wants to feel more like part of the crew and less like the “yittle brudder”.
TEACHING CONFLICT RESOLUTION | this is important alllll around, but it also happens to be Poppy’s forte. Girlfriend never backs down from a conflict but always makes sure everyone hugs and makes up. Also not ashamed to say we’ve taken a line from Full House (+ Fuller House, too) — Talk it out, work it out, hug it out!
TEAM BUILDING FTW | Espen shines in this situation but overall, everyone benefits. Anything from playing a game, sharing highs and lows at the dinner table, having them say 3 nice things about each other, organizing a lemonade stand, or giving them a chore to do together, to family nights in, staycations, weekend getaways and longer vacays! And when the kids seem to be at serious odds with each other, organizing a “parents vs. kids” game works like a charm!
Just a bunch of crazies that get to grow up together. (Including us parents.)
Here’s hoping we’re teaching them to appreciate, show up and cheer for each other while being authentic and sincere. Not just forcing them to “get along” — which in my book is totally overrated and should be reserved for coworkers and neighbors. Even if it feels like my sanity might be at risk sometimes, hahahah!
Now it’s your turn… share all your tips! Lord knows I need them!
Images by Amy Nielson Photography