• Good Sibling Relationships | Kira Dorrian and Deana Thayer | Episode 175

  • sibling relationshipsKids arguing, not cutting each other slack, or ignoring each other can really push parents’ buttons. This isn’t the dream we had when we brought home that second little bundle of joy. We imagined our kids growing up together and having strong sibling relationships. We imagined them playing together and supporting each other throughout life. But sibling relationships aren’t always like that. We may deal with sibling rivalry, arguing, and turbulent times. Yet, we know sibling relationships are important for our children. Kira Dorrian and Deana Thayer join Mighty Parenting podcast host Sandy Fowler to discuss sibling relationships and sibling rivalry. They cover the reason sibling relationships are so important and the parents’ role in those relationships. They talk about how to foster strong sibling bonds and what a healthy sibling relationship looks like.


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    A Favorite Quote from the Show: 

    A positive sibling relationship is one where they know how to work through conflict and come out lovingly on the other side.

    High Points From Our Conversation on Sibling Relationships:

    Quote about sibling relationshipsSibling relationships are the first peer relationships a child has. They set the stage for how they will engage in future peer relationships. This is where they learn to interact, problem solve, and more.

    When our kids are learning this with their siblings it involves a lot of false starts and mistakes. It includes squabbles and hurt feelings. 

    Parents have the opportunity to model good problem solving skills and lead kids in discussions until they learn to do it themselves.

    Lead with vocabulary. Pay attention to what you say about their interactions especially when they’re struggling: “It looks like you might need help with problem solving.” When they’re older, “Looks like you’re having some difficulty. Do you need/want some support with that?”

    When you’re helping your kids problem solve, let them know conflict is normal. Then talk about how we can handle the conflict while treating everyone with respect. 

    The parent’s goal is to encourage positive sibling bonds, not to force them to get along. Encourage the emotional intelligence and skills to get along.

    You can encourage positive sibling relationships by discussing what’s important in your family and having ground rules for handling conflict.

    We can help our kids maintain a more balanced sibling relationships by paying attention to levels and location. 

    • When our children are resolving a conflict they should be on the same physical level. They should both be sitting or both standing rather than one looking down on the other to indicate they are equal.
    • It’s helpful to have a specific places to go to do problem solving and work through their differences.

    If you haven’t done these things you can start now.  It’s never too late to say you’re making a course correction.

    These tips work well for blended families and can help build bonds between step-parents and step-children.

    Bickering can be annoying to parents but it also indicates a level of emotional comfort which is good.

    A positive sibling relationship is one where they know how to work through conflict and come out lovingly on the other side.

    Some of the things our kids can gain through sibling relationships include:

    • Our ability to see the humanity in each other and to learn we all make mistakes
    • Learning to work through conflict and come out loving on the other side
    • The ability to stay civil and kind with  someone who is difficult or who you don’t like

    Parents should let kids have space to learn how to work through conflict. However, they need to get involved if someone’s getting hurt physically or emotionally. They should also intervene if things are getting out of hand such as items being thrown.

    Let siblings be seen as helpful or as a resource whenever possible. For example, if your child asks you a question you could say, “Johnny knows all about that. That would be a good question for him”.

    Parents need to teach empathy. We can model it and we can bring it up in conversation, “Do you think they were trying to be hurtful?”

    Teach kids active listening skills. Teach them to make eye contact, put away phones, and to reflect back what they hear.

    If you have one child who is dominant you may need to have conversations with all of your kids individually and encourage certain behaviors. Talk to the dominant one about taking turns, asking about preferences, and using active listening. Talk to the more timid child about speaking up, being assertive, and asking for their turn. 

    “I’d like to invite you to work past this. Would you tell your brother what you need right now?”

    Help them build the skills then give them room to practice.


    Freebie Video 3 Essential Strategies for Raising Adults and Calendar of Character Traits (geared toward younger kids and still fodder for discussion with older kids) are available at bit.ly/raisingadultspodcast

    Raising Adults podcast

    Our Guests Kira Dorrian and Deana Thayer :

    Deana Thayer and Kira Dorrian talk about sibling relationshipsKira Dorrian and Deana Thayer co-founded Future Focused Parenting, the groundbreaking parenting philosophy that starts with the end in mind, encouraging families to make intentional parenting choices. Together they co-host the Raising Adults Podcast where they discuss various topics related to parenting with a long-range view. Both Kira and Deana are parent coaches and are passionate about preparing families to thrive rather than just survive on their parenting journey.  

    To learn more or connect with our guest visit futurefocusedparenting.com and listen to the Future Focused Parenting podcast on your favorite podcast player.

    Our Sponsors:

    iBme — Mindfulness courses and retreats for teens and adults iBme offers online and in-person retreats, mindfulness courses, and weekly meditations tailored for various communities of teens and young adults. Visit iBme.com to learn more and register for programs.

    Stressed moms have a harder time being the parent they want to be. Get Sandy’s free video lesson and her Core Strategy Inventory to get real relief from stress at sandyfowler.com/stress-relief