Posted: Oct 15, 2012 1:51 AM
It's very important that your kids learn to play nice from an early age -- not just to keep the peace in your household but also to aid development and learning. Younger children model older siblings' behavior, learning a great deal from them. And older siblings can learn from a younger child's innocence and imagination as well.

Discourage rivalry

To help your children get along, discourage rivalry between them. Rivalry is usually caused because one child doesn't believe he is getting enough attention, love and respect from a parent. Therefore, you should make sure that you devote enough one-on-one attention to each child -- particularly the older child when a new baby comes along.

Praise positive behavior

Just like adults, a child's ego can be flattered. Praise your older child for teaching the younger siblings new things. Talk about how his brothers and sisters look up to him. Praise positive behavior rather than focusing on the negative.

Provide time for unstructured play

Though structure is good for young children, your whole lives shouldn't be structured. Don't overschedule kids in sports, camps and other extracurricular activities. Also, don't always have your child's school friends or neighborhood playmates over. Instead, provide unstructured playtime where your children can just hang out together. Encourage them to build a city with blocks, set up a fort in the living room, put on a play or puppet show, dress up in costumes or just toss a ball or Frisbee around. The key is to encourage activities that are suitable for all ages, so no one will get bored or frustrated.

Coach them through conflicts

Brothers and sisters will bicker, fight and argue. However, their conflicts don't have to take over every day. When a clash takes place, if someone isn't being hurt, don't intervene or separate them immediately. Instead, allow your kids a few minutes to see if they can begin to solve the conflict on their own. If they don't, you can step in gentle and try to coach them through resolving their problems.

Don't make them always share

We always preach to our kids about the importance of sharing. And though learning to share is essential for them to get along with their siblings and peers, they shouldn't always have to share. If your child receives a special birthday gift, he shouldn't be expected to immediately begin sharing it with his siblings. This typically causes resentment. Let each child have some special designated toys that they don't have to share. You'll find they might be more apt to share when they aren't forced to do it.

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