Time to Play: Tips for Getting Siblings to Play Nice Together

As a mom of three, there are no shortages of fights, bickering, and finger pointing between my children. My kids mostly enjoy each other’s company, but we have our fair share of not getting along. It’s never the same two fighting against each other, which is somewhat of a relief. And usually, they get along fine unless, of course, it’s spring break or summer vacation where the constant interaction with each other gets in the way of happy times. So as summer vacation creeps upon us, I figured I better sort this out—and soon.

For the times when the kids are not getting along, I often don’t know what to do. Usually, I try to let them sort it out. The less I am involved, the better. Other times, I intervene and force them to get along without hearing who did what. I remind them often that it’s much better to have a sibling that you can play with whenever you want than not to. I’m not sure they are always convinced. Some days, I force them to play together just because the “I’m bored” whining makes me want to hide in a closet somewhere. Other days, I find myself telling everyone to spend some quiet time alone in their rooms because I’m tired of the constant bickering.

I decided it was time that I finally sorted this all out. I read a few books, a few online articles, and tested a few methods to see what worked best for our kids. Here’s what I came up with:

Four Simple Tips For Getting Siblings to Play Well Together

1) Respect the alone time. Although it’s great to want your kids to play together, after a busy day or busy week, everyone could use some time alone just resting, reading a book, or playing quietly. The same goes for your kids. If they are constantly bickering, they may just need some time alone and that’s okay.

2) Take advantage of things they enjoy in common. My kids love playing the same video game. If I need them to play together, sometimes I start with common ground. If it’s the video game, after 30 minutes, I move the playing outdoors and seize the opportunity to continue having them enjoy time together.

3) Avoid putting older and younger siblings together on something competitive. If someone will win or lose at the end of a game, I avoid it unless everyone knows that there will be no whining, complaining, or bragging at the end of the game. I have one child that is very competitive and hates to lose. I have to remember this when he wants to challenge his big brother, four years older than he is.

4) Allow children enough space to resolve their own conflict. Of course, if they are hitting each other or calling names, intervene. If you do intervene, help them resolve the conflict by giving them tips on solving the problem. Avoid solving it for them or telling your kids how to solve their battles.

How do you get your children to play together? Share your tips below!

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