It’s important to take care of our mental health while we are spending so much time at home together. Becky Davenport, Ph D , LMFT, of the Institute for Couple and Family Enhancement https://www.icfetx.com/, joined Charter Moms Chats to talk about fostering sibling relationships.
Siblings are the friends we are stuck with—more so than ever, since we are all staying home to work and study. Dr. Davenport says that we need to have realistic expectations of ourselves, but that over time we can coach our children to better learn how to manage conflict.
When children of different ages are doing remote learning at home, there is the risk of making comparisons. Sometimes the solution is as simple as giving a toddler a coloring book and telling them it’s their “homework.” In other instances, we need to be more mindful about what we say.
Rather than trying to make things “fair” or “equal,” think about what we need to do make sure *this* child’s needs are met. Avoid comparing one child’s behavior to another’s; every child is different, especially at different ages and maturity levels.
When we’re all cooped up together, it’s easy to tell fighting siblings to just “Stop it!” But in the long run, it’s better to help kids learn to talk through it. Help the quiet ones to learn to speak up for themselves, and encourage them to take each other’s perspective. The parent is not the judge or decider. Dr. Davenport recommends the work of John Gottman. https://www.gottman.com/
Another strategy to keep things peaceful is to make sure that every family member has a space to call their own.
We are grateful to Dr. Davenport for being a part of Charter Moms Chats. We encourage you to take this opportunity to help your children to build stronger connections among siblings. As best you can, treat yourself and your family members with kindness and understanding.