Encouraging friendships with kids

A sibling can be a first friend. For a lot of kids, playing with their siblings is how they first practice playing with others. Friendship with a sibling is one of the best kinds of friendships, in my opinion. As a parent, I get so much joy from watching my kids enjoy each other. My son, Cruz, is 5 and my daughter, Aria, is 2 so my career as a parent to siblings has really just begun. Because they are only 3 years apart I dream about the days when they’ll both be at the same school. I think about how thankful I am that Aria will have her big brother to look out for her at school, even if it’s only for a few years. Also, thinking about the idea of them having the same friends and hanging out together makes me really happy!

As soon as I found out I was pregnant with Aria, I hoped that my kids would have a lifelong friendship. I also felt a responsibility to help nurture their bond from day 1. Just because they’re siblings doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll have this great bond. So I decided to write out the things that I believe encourage their friendship and strengthen their bond. These are things that work for them but might not be the best approach for every personality or age.

1. Cruz, the big brother and role model

Even though Cruz was only 3 when Aria was born, we let him know from the beginning that it was his responsibility to help us teach her. It could be silly things like teaching her how to eat pizza or how to dance. We also reminded him of this if he got frustrated with her for trying to take a toy from him or something like that. Explaining that Aria was still learning how to play nicely and that we need to be patient and talk to her makes him feel big and responsible. His way of helping to teach her shouldn’t come off in a bossy way and we wouldn’t want him to reprimand her. It’s more about showing Cruz how to be a good role model.

2. Saying I’m sorry and I forgive you

It’s always been important to us to have them say sorry to each other if someone’s been hurt physically or emotionally. When Aria couldn’t say the words “I’m sorry”, I’d have her gently rub Cruz’s cheek as an apology and I’d say the words. Whoever was hurt will say I forgive you and there will be hugs and kisses for each other after. I wouldn’t want Cruz to feel that Aria gets away with being unkind just because she’s younger. That’s why we wanted to teach both of them from the beginning that being kind to each other is what’s expected.

3. Individual time

We try to schedule time to spend individually with the kids. We’re not great at doing this often, but the time we do spend with them individually is so sweet! I think this time is good for their relationship since they’re getting undivided attention. Siblings can get jealous of each other especially if one of them needs more attention. Having their own special day or activity reminds our kids of the special bond that my husband and I each have with them.

There’s obviously so much more to encouraging a friendship between your children! These are just the 3 things that I can say have definitely helped our kids. If you want to see more of what we do with our kids, follow our family on Instagram @withkidsfamily