As a parent of siblings, or a sibling yourself, you know your children won’t get along 100% of the time. However, when you homeschool, you have an opportunity to help strengthen the bond your family shares, as well as the bond your children share with each other. While families of traditionally-schooled children spend their days in separate classrooms or even in different schools, homeschool families have the children spending much of their days together. Even though they might be studying different materials, they are usually in the same area as each other. But just being in the same room doesn’t equal more of a bond. Here are some ways for parents to help strengthen their children’s bonds:
Start with Respect
Outside of the home, you would not be friends with someone who does not respect you or your children. Bringing that back into your home is the first step to helping your children bond. Unfortunately, we are shown to be more verbally aggressive towards our siblings than to others. When your child becomes aware of how they treat their brothers and sisters, they can begin to speak to each other with respect. This allows each child’s ideas, feelings, and belongings to be respected, helping them grow closer together.
Cooperation not Competition
In multiple-sibling households there’s always the chance for competition between children. From trying to one-up each other with chores, eye-balling juice levels poured into their cups, getting attention from parents, or grades, competition can easily drive a wedge between two children. Instead, help fend off this competitive attitude by having your children work together on chores, games, and other daily tasks. They’ll begin to play fair, helping them begin a lifelong friendship.
Celebrate Each Child
While you want your children to cooperate with each other, that does not mean they have to inherently be the same. Each child has their own personality, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. Allow your child to be who he or she is but avoid playing favorites. Don’t compare one child’s success to the others failures, as they each have their own individual skills.
Stay In Tune
As a parent with multiple children, it’s hard to juggle the day to day life, let alone trying to stay ahead of everything that could happen. But there are signals that you can pick up on that might lead you to better success with your children’s bonds. Do you notice one child getting extra cranky before lunch? Maybe another picks on the other when they need a nap? Pay attention to the times and scenarios where your children may conflict, then try to get ahead of them.
Help Each Other
It is sometimes difficult to help two siblings with a large age gap bond. However, when you ask your older children to step in and help your younger one, they can begin to build love and create memories with each other. The increased solidarity between them can help bridge the age gap.
Support Each Other
While each child will have their own activities, whether it be karate, soccer, violin, or otherwise, it is important to have the other children show up to support their siblings. Seeing their family in the stands cheering them on will not only make them proud, it will make them care about their siblings that showed up for them.
Practice What You Preach
Children emulate what they see. If you have a sibling that you are short with, or make hurtful comments after they leave, your children will see that and follow in your footsteps. Remember to strengthen the bonds you have with your family to show your children the respect you expect out of them.
It Won’t Be Smooth Sailing
Just remember, it won’t always be smooth sailing. You’ll have fights, tears, and sometimes hysterics – and that’s just from you. All kidding aside, it’s ok! When you live and learn with someone 24/7 it can be challenging. Just help your children sort out their challenges and help get them back on track. There’s no magic medicine to creating perfect family bonds but following the above mentioned tips can help you along your way!