There’s plenty of challenges that come with raising more than one child in the same household. One of those being getting your kids to bond and play with one another. Unfortunately, the reality is, siblings fight. They cry out when their brother or sister touches the other’s things or the younger sibling is poking the other one.
Regardless, it’s important to foster good sibling relationships and encourage sibling play. If you’re new to this blog, I am a mother of four. Four children of all different ages who have their own personalities and needs. I personally believe in embracing the chaos so that we can be happy parents, raising kids in happy homes.
I believe that we can all agree that being a mom is difficult, but when you’re also trying to manage sibling relationships where there is a decent age gap, it becomes even harder. Hopefully the tips and the games for siblings listed below are helpful.
How to Get Siblings to Play Together
Allow unstructured play time.
By playing, older children and young children develop a number of different life skills, or tools, that they can carry with them throughout their life and in any situation. By allowing your kids unstructured play time, kids can conjure up their own ideas and create their own rules, rather than setting the rules yourself.
Children playing can look like building structures with blocks or singing silly songs out loud. There’s no specific learning objective, but your kids can be silly, laugh, and just have some fun. Unstructured play can give your child a sense of freedom and control, while they learn about themselves and figure out what they enjoy.
Give opportunities for siblings to be on the same team.
Whether it’s a game where you have siblings vs. parents or siblings vs. friends, give your children the opportunity to team up. They’ll be working together instead of competing against one another.
Your children will learn to work together and communicate, and hopefully learn that they’ll always be on the same team whether it’s a game setting or not.
While fighting isn’t anything out of the ordinary, it’s safe to say that it’s not exactly ideal. With your kids, encourage them to be kind to each other. If you notice that your child complemented or said something kind to their sibling, tell them how it was sweet of them to say that.
One way you emphasize kindness can be to provide positive reinforcement. Just show that you are noticing their good behavior so that your child is receiving small bursts of attention and affirmation. This can also help with encouraging your children to follow the rules while spending time with one another. Teaching your children to be kind is an important part of giving your children the tools they might need for when they’ll eventually leave the nest.
Write down ideas for play.
It can be hard to find a common ground between siblings. Interests are vastly different and they can be at completely different development stages. By no means does this mean they can’t ever play together. You just want to have a conversation about what both kids enjoy to see what they have in common.
Kids are going to have certain things they enjoy that your other child might not. So, try to figure out what the common interests are. You can write these out so that you can give them ideas of what to do together if they can’t agree on an activity. Maybe you find that both like to play a game together like tag or hide and seek.
Even if you have a one-year-old and an older child, there are still games or activities that they can do with one another. I’ve written about some fun activities to try in the past that you or your older children can try with their younger siblings.
Don’t force your children to always play together.
As much as you would like your children to want to play together, sometimes they might just not want to. This can be especially true with older siblings playing with younger siblings. They might’ve had a busy day at school or maybe they just want to do their own thing for a bit. Forcing them to play together can create a negative environment where there’s more likely to be arguing or frustration.
To make sure you aren’t being forceful, be receptive to cues. Maybe one or all of your children have had enough or just aren’t really feeling it at that moment. If you’re finding that one of your children is a bit aggressive and/or is aggressive while playing, here’s some advice dealing with an aggressive toddler in particular.
Games Siblings Can Play Together
- Scavenger Hunt
- Balloon Toss
- Obstacle Course
- Freeze Dance
- What’s In The box?
- Board Games
- Hide and Seek
- Build a Fort, or a Cardboard Box Fort
- Arts and Crafts
- The Floor is Lava
Tell me your thoughts on sibling dynamics below.
Sibling relationships can be tricky, and it’s unique to each and every family. If you feel inclined to do so, leave me a comment about your experiences and if you have any good strategies or tips. I’d love to read them! If you have any games or activities you’ve discovered that work well, share those too.