Remember when having children was just a dream. How did you imagine parenting would be? It’s easy to get caught up in the fairytale. Not only did you dream your children would play together and get along great, they will also get along great with their parents and everyone else.
By now, I’m sure you realize this isn’t true. Not only is it not true for you, it’s not true for anyone else. All families have their shares of highs and lows. And, not all of our dreams turn out the way we imagined.
Maybe, you’re still in a tiny house or apartment. Then comes the unexpected expenses, you didn’t realize your medical insurance had such a high deductible or the car breaks down. Your parents suddenly pass away or you are forced to move to an area you don’t like. Whatever the reason, life doesn’t always turn out the way we thought it should.
The reason kids don’t get a long can vary. Maybe, they are two entirely different kids. One likes to be with their friends all the time, and the other is happy at home watching T.V. Whatever the case is, it’s alright to be different from one another. Your kids may also be different from you. When you were their age, you may have loved to read and write. Now you have a kid that loves video games. This is also alright. What’s most important is that you kid feels loved and accepted by you.
Here are 4 tips to help your kids get along.
- Make sure that your kids know the rules. This is also known as setting boundaries. When children know what’s expected of them, they are more likely to do it and get along. When children are young they are very observant. When you do something different for the older child, the younger child will notice. Most likely, they will ask why. It’s important that you answer this question honestly. Sometimes, the circumstances are different. Whatever the case, make sure to let them know why. If your children can’t get along, let them know what the consequence will be. For example, they can play Monopoly together but if they start to fight the game will be put away.
- Encourage independent play. Let them pick something they can play solo and focus on. This is good for your children whether they get along or not. I like using art activities. There are many great art activities out there for children. Let them paint, draw, color or play with clay. This also allows them to create something with their hands and is good for the development of the brain. This is also teaching them to self-soothe. The earlier they learn this the better.
- Praise problem-solving. When one of your kids walks away from an argument or tries to negotiate a solution. Make sure you praise them for it. Sometimes, one kid may be better at this than the other. But, it doesn’t mean that your other kid can’t learn. Learning to problem-solve is part of maturing. This is a great skill to have and is much needed in the workplace. Encourage your kids to problem-solve, and help them when you see they need help with it.
- Teach your kids to cope. It really does go back to mama’s milk. When the older one is watching the younger be breast fed, it’s natural for them to feel jealous. As they get older these feelings can grow stronger and be about other things. Like, you bought one kid a toy at an earlier age than another. If you have more than one kid, then you know what I am talking about. Teaching your child to cope when they have feelings of jealousy, can be one of the best things you can do. We all know that life isn’t always fair, but we can learn to cope. Offer alternatives or compromises. When they are old enough ask them to take a look at their thought process.
A family is like a sport team playing the game of life. Not all the players are the same, and they don’t always get along or even like each other. This doesn’t mean you can be disrespectful. As a parent you are the role model, and they will copy your behavior. Model good sportsmanship to your kids, and intervene when necessary. In the game of life we can’t always pick our teammates.
Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Mateo, CA. She loves helping children and teenagers through the game of life. For more information please call or email, (650)-892-0357 or lianne@LessonsforLove.com.