Discuss empathy and emotions
“Empathy is one of the most important skills a child can have for long-term happiness,” says Mrs. Jacobs.
That ability to understand others’ points of view – and to consider the needs of others as important as your own – is difficult to master. Dr. Kremer’s program follows steps to help parents become more empathetic toward their siblings – considering that their siblings did not have a negative motive in the interaction, each child may have individual preferences and dislikes, and these differences are perfectly fine with the broader goal of learning.
She encourages parents to help their children create more precise sensitive vocabulary. “The sibling relationship tends to be very sensitive,” Dr. Kremer noted. Giving kids the visual language to calmly express themselves “I hate you!” It can be the difference! And “It makes me angry when you take my dolls,” or “I know you like to fence with your new high school friends, but I miss spending time with you.”
Focus on fun
When inevitable conflicts arise, encourage children to use the “stop, think and talk” approach. Above all, focus on making your family time as enjoyable as possible, as well as cultivating more pleasant interactions.
In our home, with our 3- and 5-year-old kids whose toys and turnaround events are becoming frequent, my husband and I have put these ideas to use with promising progress. After we went to bed on a Saturday morning, we went downstairs to watch our son’s daughter breathe on the sofa under the blanket, watching our daughter’s favorite Netflix Barbie show, which also happens to be our son’s least favorite.
“We made the choice!” They declare with pride. My husband and I looked at each other and then around the house, fascinated that no bones or furniture was damaged.
Most miraculously, their stopping and thinking and talking were all calm and serene so that would allow us to sleep a valuable extra hour.
Of course, there are many changes and we have many years before knowing whether we can celebrate near-sibling success but at that moment we felt well on our way.