I have so many memories of growing up with my twin sister. She was my first friend and built-in playmate, which made going to grandma's house or sitting through long car trips much more bearable. We shared books, toys, and experiences, because we were so close in age. So when my partner and I decided to space our kids far apart, I was worried we had hindered the possibility of a future friendship between them. Thankfully, there are clear signs your kid will be BFFs with their sibling, and my kids seem to exhibit them all.
My husband and I have a blended family. We have kids ranging in age from a 10-month-old baby to a headstrong tween, so it's often hard to know if they will be able to find ways to play together, share interests, or avoid fighting like cats and dogs. When our youngest child was born earlier this year, I was worried that his big brother would be angry or jealous that he had been replaced as “the baby.” But, honestly, after seeing them grow together, my worries seem silly now. They are totally on their way to becoming BFFs.
Our other kids are forging friendships, too. The oldest two (who are three years apart) put on makeup or sing along to the radio. The middle kids play video games or stretch their collective imaginations by playing pretend on a daily basis. The 5 year-old spends time each afternoon helping me watch the baby, usually more than happy to spend his days chasing him around the living room. Even the oldest plays endless games of peek-a-boo with the baby.
If you are interested in whether or not your kids are destined to be BFFs, or want to learn ways to foster friendship between them, read on for some clear signs and tips:
Your Older Child Is A Good Helper
My older son is the best helper when it comes to caring for his baby brother. He always wants to make sure his brother is happy and smiling, and even learned how to change diapers. Guys, he's 5-years-old!
They Smile When Their Sibling Comes Into View
Our kids delight each other. The youngest finds so much joy in his older siblings, and the middle kids are seriously sad when they are apart. The joy on their faces when their sibling gets home from school or gets up in the morning is proof positive that they will be BFFs.
They Find Ways To Play
Because my partner and I have five kids, spread pretty far apart in age, I worried that the oldest and the youngest would get left out, or that the middle kids would feel forced to be friends. In reality, though, it seems like no matter how much of an age gap there is between your kids, they will find ways to play with each other.
If you feel like your kids fight with each other all day long, you aren't alone, As reported in The Chicago Tribune, researchers at the University of Toronto found that siblings ages 2 to 4 get into fights every 9.5 minutes. The good news is that sibling rivalry is completely normal, and is actually a sign that your kids feel safe with each other.
According to Lisa Belkin, author of Life’s Work, Confessions of an Unbalanced Mom, sometimes the key to encouraging your kids to be friends is to let them have their own relationship with each other, and that means letting them fight.
They Learn To Share
Fights in our house almost always involve one sibling touching another sibling's things, one sibling not allowing another sibling to play with a toy, or one sibling marking their territory by defiantly declaring, "Mine!' if a brother or sister dares to touch something.
As parents, my partner and I have defined some rules around sharing that really work for us. Mainly, if they find a way to play together, they can have unlimited time with something. But if they can't, we will set a timer, and they will have to take limited turns. It totally works, you guys. We let them have exceptions for treasured items, but encouraging sharing has meant increased collaboration between our kids.
They Figure Out How To Resolve Conflict On Their Own
Sibling BFFs not only fight, but they figure out how to resolve conflicts, too. As Jeffery Kluger notes in Time, that skill is not only important for their relationship with each other, but also provides opportunities for them to learn and practice resolving conflicts with others, too. As Kluger reports, one study from researches at Concordia University in Montreal revealed that kids who resolve conflict themselves, rather than by being forced to by their parents fared better. Kluger writes, "kids who argued things out on their own did a better job not just of ending the fight and making up, but of devising some rule that would help them avoid the same argument in the future."
They Are Loud
When two or more of our children get together, our house is so loud, you guys. As much as we try to set rules about not yelling or running in the house, their volume increases exponentially when they play. This is a good sign, though. PBS Parents suggests that letting your kids get loud and silly together is important for bonding and becoming friends with each other. Most days, I just wish they'd take it outside.
They Stick Up For Each Other
My parents always taught us that while we didn't have to like our siblings all of the time, we did have to have each other's backs. It makes me seriously smile when one of my kids "lectures me" about their brother getting grounded, or stands up to their friends when they tease their sister. I know that even though they fight and don't always get along, they will be BFFs in the end.
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