Can our kids learn to love each other?

Image by chrisroll/

Happy Valentine’s Day! Focusing on love and friendship is a great way to start out any week.

The past couple of days, as I’ve watched my children work away at their Valentines, my thoughts have turned to that special brand of love and friendship developed between children, especially siblings.

We all know that sometimes kids just don’t get along. When I hear my son yell “She’s bugging me!” I often find that “bugging him” was exactly what my daughter was trying to do. Pestering, getting into each other’s things, and vying for parents’ attention, are all part of the norm between brothers and sisters.

Still, we all want something better for our kids. At one point or another, we all find ourselves saying, “Someday, you’re going to be each others’ best friends…”And that’s probably true, but what I want to know is, what can we do now, as their mothers, to help “someday” happen sooner?

Question: How do you cultivate caring relationships between your kids?



  1. Alisha says

    Having my children get along with each other is something that is VERY important to me. We’re pretty strict about it, and it’s something I think we’ve done okay on. I’m not sure if my kids have figured it out yet, but they can get away with just about anything if they are playing nicely together. Here is my basic theory:

    We’ve found that if we expect and enforce basic civility, situations rarely escalate to the point where feelings are hurt. We never let our children get away with talking rudely to each other, EVER. Of course they do bicker, on ocassion, but I generally step in quickly and the offender has to (1) say sorry; and (2) find some way to make restitution (a compliment for an insult, a smile for a dirty look, etc.) Sometimes I have to explain why something is hurtful, or ask the “how would you feel if it was you?” type questions, but I think most of the time my kids know when they are rude and when they are kind. When I’m intervening, I make sure each kid has a chance to tell me his/her side of the story and I let them figure out a solution without me choosing a side. I also let them figure out how to divide up toys and stuff so, again, I’m not choosing a side. I learned those last tactics in a parenting book somewhere.

    Other things we’ve tried are: (1) making the children repeat a statement/request–changing the language if necessary–until it’s polite; (2) if two of them are arguing, they have to practice talking nicely to each other, meaning they have to redo the conversation in kind and polite terms; and (3) if the offender made his/her sibling cry, the offender has to be the one to get them to stop, not me. I rarely have to use that last one, but it is very effective.

    We still have our issues, but our kids generally get along very well. I just hope it continues!

  2. Shawna says

    “I’m not sure if my kids have figured it out yet, but they can get away with just about anything if they are playing nicely together.”

    HA! That is so funny–I was just realizing the same thing about myself a few days ago. My kids haven’t exploited it yet, but I think I’ll just smile the day that they do. Nothing could make me happier than my kids playing nicely together.

    Thanks for your other suggestions too.

  3. Brenda says

    I agree with Alisha’s comment. If our children are never allowed to quarrel, then they never have a reason to not love. Unkind words hurt feelings and give kids a reason not to like each other. So many potential problems with siblings can be prevented by never allowing them to say unkind things to one another.

    How do we do this? By “nipping it in the bud.” We start young. My mother modeled this, by even disciplining us for calling each other names like “frog” or telling each other to “shut-up.” By the time we were 6 or 7, we knew better and never called each other names or spoke unkindly to one another. It was very taxing on her part, I’m sure, to be so consistent, but I really believe that was the trick. To this day I still cannot speak unkindly to my siblings. I have also tried to do the same with my kids, and my sons are and always have been the best of friends (they are older now). I’m grateful for a mother who knew.

    When there were differences between siblings, humor always played a part in the solution–we would work it out, and were required to give eachother a kiss, which nobody wanted to do–and envariably we would just crack up.

  4. Alyssa says

    So what do you do when you tried these things and your kids can’t stand each other? Or more correctly said 2 of yours seem to be in opposition 60% of the time?

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