We’ve all seen the stories on the news — the Harbaugh boys are facing off against each other in the Super Bowl this coming weekend. Many of the stories have centered around the two coaches and the rivalry between siblings. Forget the coaches — we’re looking at Mrs. Harbaugh and hoping to learn her secrets.

Anyone with more than one child can tell you that sibling rivalry is just a part of the package. Whether you have two sons, a son and a daughter, a houseful of six kids or a set of twins you can't escape the fact that siblings always want more of what the other one has. In a world that isn't always fair, special privileges and attention given to your sibling feels so much worse. But sibling rivalry isn't always a bad thing. We're channeling Mrs. Harbaugh and putting her secrets to work with your kids.

Be a zone player

When you have more than one child, you can't be everything to all of them at the same time. Cover the “zone” that needs covering the most and let the others be. By tending to your children when they need you most, you are reinforcing the message that you're always there for them when the going gets tough. By creating a supportive environment in your home, you are also modeling to all of your kids how they can support each other.

While the parents were supporting both teams during the game, the son who certainly needed them more afterwards took center stage for a bit.


When Jack and Jackie Harbaugh went to the Raven's locker room after the team defeated the 49ers last Thanksgiving Day, the celebration was in full swing — and their son John, the Raven's head coach, obviously didn't need them. They left and headed for the 49ers' locker room to support their son Jim, whose team had been defeated. While the parents were supporting both teams during the game, the son who certainly needed them more afterwards took center stage for a bit.

Support the family team

Encourage kids to cheer for their siblings from the stands, high-five them for a good report card or laugh when little sister tells a (bad) joke.

Build your family's bond by looking at your family as a team — complete with a quarterback, defenders and receivers. Just like a football team can't win with just a quarterback, your family will suffer when the team isn't on the same playing field. Encourage kids to cheer for their siblings from the stands, high-five them for a good report card or laugh when little sister tells a (bad) joke. The players on your family team stay the same, but they play different positions over time.

The Harbaugh family moved 17 times over dad Jack's 43-year coaching career. The boys — who were only 15 months apart — changed schools often and had to make new friends. At one point, the boys were playing on the same high school football team. Slated to play quarterback for his senior year, John was pushed aside when the coaches decided to place sophomore Jim in the coveted position instead. His teammates were not happy with the decision, but John supported his brother and encouraged the team to do the same. The family bond that their parents built was there when they needed it.

Play to their strengths

Knowing how they are wired helps you as a parent and as a mediator.

You've seen it in your own family — two kids from the same gene pool can be as different as night and day. Helping siblings coexist more peacefully is much easier when you recognize the differences in their personalities. One child may need more time alone during the day, while the other craves interaction. Knowing how they are wired helps you as a parent and as a mediator.

The Harbaugh boys are said to be quite the opposites in temperament. Older brother John is characterized as personable, while the younger Jim is said to have a more volatile personality. Both have channeled their strengths and abilities into the same competitive career, coming at it from different angles. We're pretty sure a healthy dose of competition — and encouragement from their mom — helped them each reach their goal of battling in the Super Bowl.

At the end of the big game the real winner is the Harbaugh family, who have taken sibling rivalry and competition and used it to create an amazing family bond.

More family bonding

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