7 Tips for Improving Sibling Bonds

Chelsea Day

Siblings are some of our first friends. They teach us how to relate to other people, how to share, and how to talk to others about our deepest and most important feelings. But sometimes, siblings become our worst enemies. They can play on our insecurities, steal our toys, and tell secrets without thinking about the consequences.

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Sibling relationships are definitely complicated. They can range from very healthy to extremely hostile. And they can sometimes be either one of those things at any given moment, seemingly changing with the wind. But they can also be wonderful! And they can be the most important relationships from childhood all the way through the rest of your life. Here are ten strategies for building a better relationship with siblings.

Resolve Underlying Issues

We always feel connected to the people and places that shaped us. And in times of darkness and stress, unlearning the bitter lessons from our past can be a hugely healing experience. First and foremost, it’s important to address ongoing problems that may be simmering under the surface. It’s always a good idea to be straightforward, honest, and empathetic. Try to understand viewpoints other than your own, listening with an open heart and an open mind.

For most of us, growing up with a sibling is often a double-edged sword. A lot of times they put us in uncomfortable situations, by breaking a curfew or getting into trouble at schools in situations we have to cover for. Siblings often grow to resent each other as kids, and that compounds into adulthood when one or the other is just plain afraid to say anything.

But by the time we turn eighteen, we have a bit more perspective and can clarify the situation, just as any two grown-ups can. For teenagers — and even teens in their early twenties — the barriers are lessened. There are probably no external constraints other than not wanting to get yourself into a fight or worse, make a fool of yourself in front of other people. The good news is that you can make a fool of yourself in front of siblings anytime, and they’re basically required to get over it!

Bond over your Shared History

Siblings provide companionship and someone to share your childhood with. Having a brother or sister can be one of the most rewarding relationships you have in your life. You're always there for one another, you can always have fun together, and when you get older, you can reminisce about the good old days when you were young.

If you do notice yourself drifting from your sibling, try a project that relives your glory days.

Setting up a family reunion or tracking your family tree information on a genealogy site can be a really fun way to reconnect with your siblings over neutral territory. You may also enjoy creating a scrapbook of family memories, celebrating a relative’s anniversary or other significant event with a surprise party, or restoring an old family heirloom.

Get Over the Age Gap

“Do you and your siblings get along?” It’s a question asked by parents everywhere, and the answer isn’t always as clear cut as many people think – and age gap often has a lot to do with it. For example, it’s not unusual for two younger siblings to get along but for the older sibling to dislike the parental attention that both of them receive. It’s also not unusual for one younger sibling to idolize their older brother or sister only to be told that they’re annoying and that they should do whatever is asked of them.

As you get older, you develop the maturity to recognize that age order isn’t everything, and that even your annoyingly- older or younger siblings may deserve a lot more credit than you’ve given them. Get to know the people they are now, with respect for the experiences that have helped shape them.

Spend One-on-One Time Together

One of the most important relationships you’ll ever have is your relationship with your siblings. The bond you share with your brothers and sisters will remain with you throughout your entire life. While it's common to spend more time fighting than playing as children, it's important to find ways to improve your relationship as you get older.

Even if you haven’t been close throughout your lives, it’s a great idea to start spending one-on-one time together to bond over unique interests you’ve developed as you’ve grown. It can be really fascinating to get to know your siblings just as you’d get to know a new friend, looking at them in a new way, with a fresh perspective.

Take an Active Interest in Their Lives

Your siblings are multi-faceted people with a diverse array of interests and life experiences. You may feel like you have nothing in common with them, but you can reconnect by asking about their jobs, hobbies, partners and more.

Share Your Life with Them

The best way to create a real connection with someone is to be open and honest about your own life experiences and struggles. Siblings can be an incredible sounding board! One of the best things about siblings is that they know you and your tendencies well enough that they just may point out some patterns that you don’t recognize in yourself. You never know what you might learn about each other during this time.

Reverse Roles, If you Can

If there is one sibling who tends to take the lead on dialoguing with parents, cooking meals, home organization, etc, see if you can switch things up! You may find that you come to understand your siblings on a much deeper level once you can fully relate to their experience and their positioning within the family.

Understanding your siblings is a big part of fostering a positive sibling relationship. Every person is unique, with his or her own likes, dislikes, favorite activities, and opinions, so it’s important that you try and see things from your siblings’ perspectives.

Get over past stuff, get to know them now, and cherish those lifelong friendships!

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Helping parents live simple and satisfying lives. Our homeschooling family loves to learn, and in our spare time (hah!) we RV travel and flip houses.

Boise, ID
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