When siblings from the same family spend a lot of time together, they are bound to get into conflict. Conflicts over shared resources, over shared space, and over different rules for different ages. During regular summers, siblings will generally spend more time together than during the school year, at least before and after camp. This year, with most camps closed and several months with no school, siblings have already spent lots of time together. This can make the conflict even more pronounced. So, how can you help your children get along this summer?
- Set ground rules. With shared resources such as computers and shared spaces such as bedrooms, set ground rules in advance. Know how turns are taken and what is okay for each sibling. Make sure that everyone is aware of those rules – either through a discussion or even a written agreement that all of the siblings contribute to.
- Fair does not mean equal. When it comes to different rules for different ages, you might hear your children complain, “it’s not fair” a lot. The important thing to point to your children is that fair does not mean equal. Fair means that “conforming to the rules” or “free from impartiality.” This means that if one child goes to sleep at 7:30 and another at 9:00, it may still be fair even if it is not equal.
- Reward teamwork. When you see your children working together, reward them! You can do this through simple positive reinforcement (“Great job, guys! I love it when you work together. It makes me feel so happy to see you like that”) or through an actual joint reward (an ice cream party after dinner or a new board game they have all been asking for). Either way, the actual reward should come with some positive reinforcement as well.
Are you going to have a summer without sibling tension? That’s highly unlikely, but there are a few ways you can work on easing the tension – so you only hear “Mom, he’s bothering me!” every other day.