You’ve heard it said, “Siblings are your very first friends.” That saying is very much true, but often the direct opposite is true as well: “Siblings are your very first enemies.” It’s healthy and natural to notice both ends of these social scenarios in your home environment. However, when the battles form quicker than the friendships, parental intervention may be necessary. If you find your children butting heads a lot more than they are getting along, you may want to try this simple way to foster friendship between siblings.
The Kindness Jar
Recently, while we were out grocery shopping, my youngest saw a large glass jar of hard candies. Her eyes rounded, and she asked me if we could get the colorful red purple and green candies.
We stay away from food dye in my home, and as I read the ingredients (pleasantly surprised that the candles were dyed from natural sources!) an idea struck. Perhaps I could use these candies to encourage friendliness between my three little ones, who I had noticing behaving in an unusually negative manner.
As I started explaining my idea to the children, I realized I actually had each of their full and undivided attention! With six eyes all focused on me, (and the candy!), I explained that they could earn these special candies by doing acts of friendliness towards their fellow siblings – and that anytime a parent or grandparent saw them being extra kind or helpful to their sibling, they would be allowed to choose a candy from the jar! Needless to say, they were all on board.
Now, I know this sounds a little bit like bribery, but I truly believe that such a system helps to establish an increasingly positive environment and teach my kids that kindness is noticed. If you think about it, you probably have a system already in place for negative behaviors, involving a consequence of some sort. But children need to have those positive behaviors reinforced and noticed, as well. For another great idea on a rewards system focused on connection, check out the ticket system that Mrs. Skolnik, (a parent here at The Thrive Group), recommends.
Just yesterday, my eleven-year-old just walked up to my six-year-old and said, “Do you need help putting away your stuffed animals?” ALL. ON. HIS. OWN.
It’s working here!
Are there personalities in your home that tend to clash? What do you find helpful in reinforcing positive interactions between your children? And how do you let them know that you appreciate those friendly moments?
This post was written by Krista Caines, OTAS, a fieldwork student, currently studying at Jefferson University to become an occupational therapy assistant. She spent eight weeks shadowing at The Thrive Group.