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Help Your Kids Grow Their Special Sibling Bond


All siblings are alike in some ways and different in other ways, which can make life interesting for everyone in the family. Teaching your kids a few ways to BE with each other—how to get through the rough stuff, how to support each other through hard times and happy ones, and how to share their space—can help them build a great relationship and lasting memories.

Be Thoughtful

It’s easy to be thoughtful on special occasions, like a birthday, but everyday thoughtfulness can go a long way in making your kids’ relationship with each other strong. A note of encouragement, a small token for luck, or a homemade mini book of favorite pictures or jokes given from one sibling to another, just because, are great ways your kids can show they’re thinking of each other.


Be Fair

Fairness matters, especially to kids. Making sure everyone has a turn—whether deciding the day’s activities, choosing which cereal to pick at the store, or picking which movie to watch—is a good start. But it might also help to remind your kids that fair is not the same thing as equal. Everyone doesn’t always need or get the exact same thing, and sometimes one person will have to go first. The more they understand what fairness is all about, the less time they may spend being upset or annoyed, which means more time having fun together!

Be Generous

Squabbles are no fun, but they are almost always a part of having siblings. When your kids are upset with each other, even the smallest problems can feel big—and that can make the fights become big, too. Encourage your kids to be generous with their words, gestures, and actions. Help them understand that once they say something mean, they can’t unsay it. Give them the tools they need to take a deep breath, stay calm, and decide when it is better to let something go. In the end, being generous might actually feel better than winning a fight.

Be Considerate

Being part of a family means sharing: sharing space, sharing activities, sharing “stuff,” and sharing time. Help your kids understand that being considerate of others is a way to show respect and keep the peace. Simple acts like putting things away, making room for each other, wearing headphones when others need quiet, knocking before opening a door to a bedroom or bathroom, or asking before using or eating something are all concrete ways your kids can show each other consideration.

Be Supportive

Help your kids celebrate each other’s successes: any happy occasion for someone in your family is a good excuse for the whole family to celebrate! But also encourage them to support each other when one of them feels down. Your children can help each other through disappointment or hardship with simple acts of kindness: offering to listen, writing a supportive note or drawing a picture, or simply sharing a cookie are ways they can show each other how much they care.

Be Together

One of the best things about siblings is that they have someone around for fun any time of the day—or night. Encourage your kids to think of each other as friends and to seek out opportunities for good times together. There are loads of things your kids can do together, like making yummy snacks, playing (or making up) a new game, having a sibling slumber party, spending time outdoors, or making music together! Sometimes, the secret to sibling closeness is just having more fun together, more often—and that’s a win for everyone.


Excerpted and adapted from The Sister Book: A Guide to Good Times with Your Family by Kristi Thom; illustrated by Brenna Vaughan. American Girl Publishing, 2015. All rights reserved.

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