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Sibling love- respecting it, working for it, and preserving it

#BecoSiblingLove walk mayou quote

Earlier I shared here some of what our 6 children have taught us in our parenting journey about sibling bonding.  Beco Baby Carriers joined us with a giveaway to encourage the connections between parents and siblings, because they believe that supporting family bonding is important and one of their core values.  While not everyone could win (the winners have been notified), we did giveaway 6 #BecoSiblingLove carrier packs and are happy that everyone wins a little with this great collection of tips and sweet photos from the Leakies shared here, on Facebook, Instagram, and twitter encouraging sibling bonding.  This collection of tips highlights respecting, working for, and preserving sibling love from the voices of experienced moms.  If you have some to add or a story of sibling bonding and adjusting to adding a new family member, leave us a comment, we love hearing from you.  Thanks to all who contributed!

More tips from the Leakies for adding a new baby in a family and promoting sibling bonds.

I like to talk to my two year old about the baby and all the things that we did with her when she was a baby. Things like, “He’s crying a lot because he’s a baby. You used to cry a lot, too!” ~Ginni, mom of two

My children bond with him by him doing things for him. And they bond with each other by playing mostly.  ~Danielle, mom of 6

They each love when I wear them and go for walks.  ~Joanne, mom of 2 under 4

We sing songs, read books, all three of us snuggle up on the toddlers bed for naps and they both fall asleep, take baths together and big brother helps with baby, when big brother loves on little brother we praise them both and tell big brother his little brother loves him so much.  ~Hannah, mom of 2 boys under 3

We’ve encouraged their relationship since I was showing. She’d kiss my belly and pat it. And its so moving seeing her noe pat the baby’s back and give him morning kisses. She actually is so in love with “brover” she gets mad if other people hold him and wants to kiss him as soon as she’s awake.  ~Tay, mom of 2 under 2

I actually encouraged him to babywear the other day because he wants to hold the baby while standing up.  ~Raina, mom to 2 boys, 6 years old and 6 months

#BecoSiblingLove

We encourage sibling bonding by letting the older one help get things like diapers, or juice for his little sister to make him feel like such a big boy. We love playing games together as well, stacking blocks is also something fun that they both enjoy! ~Cassandra, mom to 2 toddlers

I feel like we have encouraged sibling bonding by letting each child know how much they are loved and that love is endless and independent of any one else. We make them feel special as individuals, which makes sibling rivalry nearly non-existent.  ~Heather, mom to 4 girls

We are tandum nursing right now and I love to see them looking into each others eyes. It’s so sweet. I really hope nursing them together helps foster their bond.  ~Jinny, mom to one 3 year old and one 1.5 year old

Our older two boys (7 and 6) share a room. I have heard that sharing a room helps build a stronger bond for siblings in adulthood. I hope so because they have difficulty with each other now but they both adore their younger brother.  ~Melissa, mom of 4 boys

I made sure that I included big brother in everything that happened with the baby. When it was time to eat, I let him help me burp the baby. When I had to change the baby, he handed me the clean diaper and the wipes. At nap time, big brother would lay down on the play mat with the baby and watch a movie. It made him feel important and special!  ~Christian, mom to 2 boys and one on the way

Keeping them busy is the key.  ~Jenn, mom to one 5 year old and one 8 year old

Encouraging sibling harmony is definitely challenging with a fiesty 2 year old. Diligent supervision, guidance, and modeling appropriate conflict resolution are necessary with both his older brother and his younger brother as he has yet to learn boundaries.  ~Lurissa, expecting #4

#BecoSiblingLove sibling kiss

I try not to interfere with their spontaneous, happy moments but bring them up later during quiet times with our oldest.  ~McKenna, mom of 2 boys

I think it is important to include both children in everything we do but also make some time for each to have their moments in the limelight.  ~Cassandra, stepmom of 1 and mom to 1

I have 5 children, but only 4 are living. In many ways, number 4 dying has made a huge impact on their relationships with their other sisters- especially number 5. I have learned so much about love from watching them together. I love the way they always praise each others’ efforts. And I love that they are strong for each other, and work to keep each other safe. They have the courage to speak up against something dangerous, or even do things they don’t want, to protect the baby- because they don’t want to lose their sisters.  ~Anne, mom of 5, 4 living

I find my older does better if I tell her all the good and right things she does when she interacts with her baby brother.  ~Kari, mom of 2 under 3

#BecoSiblingLove b:w newborn kiss

I encourage bonding between the older and younger children by letting them help with bath time and eating snacks together, ect. My 8 yr d daughter is very involved with my youngest and I show her trust by letting her watch her while I take a shower or cook dinner.  ~Shelby, mom of 4

This Last Pregnancy my older girls were completely involved in all of the midwife appointments helped listen to the heartbeat etc. They were there for her birth also. I think that helped them have a huge Bond from the very begining.  ~Jessica, mom of 3 girls

We have 10 kids 8 boys and 2 girls ages 23 years old to 10 months old and love the way they all interact with one and another, they are their own best friends. We use baby wearing to get out and do the things with the big kids like camping, hiking and other out door activities that we wouldn’t be able to do with a stroller. ~Kathy, mom of 10

I have found that leading by example and oftentimes just letting them work things out on their own can lead to growth in their sibling relationship. Solving problems can be a wonderful way to build character and relationships. I find that if I don’t butt in, they usually get along better.  ~Jeannette, expecting #3

#BecoSibilingLove

We foster their friendship in everything we do. We make sure to get excited for each other when something exciting happens. Now, when my little boy does something neat, his sister will get excited for him and hug him. He’s potty training and when he goes, he waits for a high 5 from his sister b/c it’s important to him. When we wake up, they hug each other right away, it’s so adorable.  ~Shannon, mom of 2

We have a “Kindness Jar.” It’s an idea a got from Pinterest about a year ago. It’s a jar we decorated, that has a bunch of slips of colored paper and each one has a “act of kindness” on it. This has worked for us and I like that it encourages redirection, rather than focusing on disciplining.  ~Alexia

The older ones love feeling like they are big helpers so I have them do little things to help with the new baby like sing to him if he is crying.  ~Alicia, 4 children under 6

I encourage sibling bonding by reminding them to hug and kiss goodnight and goodbye – and when saying sorry.  ~Mandi, expecting #3

#BecoSiblingLove matching pajamas copy

One of the big ones I find is just to be observant and not in a hurry… if I see them connecting but we have to get somewhere I try to think which is more important in the long run? Being on time to wherever (getting whatever done) or what’s going on right now. ~Cindy, mom to two boys

My 2 girls are extremely helpful and you see this when they play together. I believe in loving them like you want to be loved. They will grow up with enough love to share with everyone they wish.  ~Nicola, mom to 3

Our kids love is to hear about when they were tiny — even my oldest still like to hear how she was nursed, how much we loved to snuggle her in bed at night, how we couldnt put her down, etc. sharing all their birth stories in the weeks leading up to a new sibling’s birth has become tradition.  ~Beth, mom of 5

The best thing a parent can do is to make sure they make special time for the older sibling every day, especially when the older sibling is a younger toddler. Kids who feel that they are not being replaced by a new baby will be far more receptive to bonding and taking on the role as a “big brother/sister”.  ~Taisha, nanny to many, mom of 1

I encourage the kids to all work together as a team so they have a closer bond, which they do.  ~Sandra, mom of 8

#becosiblinglove tandem wearing

Tandem nursing and co-sleeping have helped my boys bond.  ~Anne, mom of 2

When our middle child was a newborn we let her big brother help as much as he wanted to, and hold her whenever he asked to, even if it wasn’t necessarily a good time for us. We let him help her learn to sit and stand and walk, and have always celebrated every milestone as a family. Its the same this time around with the new baby. Granted her daddy or I may not be the ones holding her hand when she takes her first steps, but that’s ok. Our son remembers helping his little sister and is still proud of it. They know empathy and trust in each other, which is priceless.  ~Lacey, mom of 3

My four year old has learned the one year old’s calming song and she sings it to him every time he gets upset. It never fails to melt my heart!  ~Ashley, mom to 2

We bought our two year old a doll & started helping him care for it while explaining that these were all things mommy & daddy would need his expert help with when his sibling arrived.  ~Jennifer, mom of 4

I always include them with what I am doing with the baby. My 3 yr will nurse her babies when I nurse her brother because her babies are hungry too.  ~Heather, mom of 4

Getting out of the way and recognizing their cues that they need space.  ~Jennifer

One of her current favorite things is to have us whisper in her ears, then she whispers in ours. She just recently expanded the game to include little brother – “can I whisper in his ear?” *arm goes around the little neck, mouth smashes up to tiny ear*, “pssshh, whisper, whisper, hsss, I love you so much, Edward.” (yes, that is exactly what she whispers – every time).  ~Sarah, mom of 2

#BecoSiblingLove Big sister reading copy

Outdoor activities are the best!  ~Brandy, mom to 3

I like to encourage them to think about what the other is thinking/feeling and how they can help out. My two older girls love to read to the younger kids, and they all love to snuggle together!  ~Sarah, mom of 4

I always remind big brother how important he is & how his brother needs his help to grow up to be a superhero just like him.  ~Kristen, mom of 2

She was most excited when he had enough head control and she was strong enough to start wearing him (again, with a lot of hair pulling).  Cami, mom to 2

One thing that has encouraged bonding is tandem nursing. I love snuggling both children while they hold hands or while my oldest pets her brother’s head. I also let her help pick out his outfits and gather diaper supplies when she’s feeling helpful.  ~Jennifer, mom of 2

They have to bond because we spend so much time together. They have no choice!  ~Nicole, mom of 3

Momma time when there was a new baby~nursing became special snuggle time for all with babe at breast and older siblings tucked in close on teach side and a good book to read aloud and then the “big kids” were my special helpers assisting me in caring for younger siblings. Even to this day (my oldest ones are college bound) my children enjoy each others company, laugh together.  ~Beth, mom to 5

We kept big bro informed the whole pregnancy and I had him read the updates with me on the pregnancy app I used, to help prepare him and keep him involved.  ~Jessi, mom of 2

Our oldest has LOVED cuddling on, holding, and trying to carry baby sister from day one. We talk often of their love for one another (when 3yo makes 1 yo laugh I’ll say, “Oh, look at her smile! She loves her sister SO much! She thinks you are great!’ or during snuggles when baby-in-belly kicks, I say it is her hand reaching out to hold her big sister and encourage the 3yo to touch the hand back or give kisses to my belly/baby). I recently started the “got your nose!” game with my 3 yo which has morphed into a giggle-fit of “got your (any body part!)”. Her new favorite is to say she got my nursies (what we call breasts used for feeding), put them on herself, and tell me how she is going to nurse the new baby! <3 ~Michel, expecting #3

#becoSiblingLove babywearing copy

The very first thing we did with each older child was call the baby theirs while pregnant. So our 2yr old walks around talking to and kissing his baby. He will tell others MY baby. It seemed to work out well so when the new baby arrives they have somewhat of a bond already. Then when the baby arrived he helped with diaper changing and getting ready for feeds. Plus we have snuggle time before bed where they all get to hold the baby and snuggle.  ~Jessie, mom to 7

Games help build their bond as well as dress up/imaginary play. Sending them outside forces them to rely on each other and not a screen (or Legos). ~Jessica, mom of a 9yo, 7yo, and toddler

Juggling personalities and making sure everyone is heard and respected can be difficult. I try and foster a want of safety in my older kids, to keep the younger ones safe and happy. Whether that means watching someone while I shower or reading stories while I use the stove for a few moments. I want them to want to protect each other.  ~Chelsea, expecting #4

Reading has always been a wonderful time for us… it was for me growing up with my 5 siblings!  ~Mechelle, expecting #4

Any time any of the other kids ask to hold him I let them without question. I want their bond with each other to be the most important to carry for their lives.  ~Sarah, mom of 4

#BecoSiblingLove circle frame copy

 

Peace Path- A Road to Conflict Resolution

Whenever you get people together, conflict is inevitably bound to happen.  More than one person in any space and chances are strong peacemaking ability and resolution skills will have the opportunity to be developed.  In our house that’s multiplied by 8, giving all of us plenty of chances to develop these necessary relationship competency.  The, uh… “opportunities”  *cough* to practice these critical relationship cornerstones increases with major change such as moving, school changes, out of town company, sickness, or adding a baby.  This last one can be particularly challenging.

So it has come to be that I have spent much time sitting on the couch, breastfeeding a new baby and acting as moderator.  What does this have to do with breastfeeding?  Nothing, really.  But if you are breastfeeding you are having children and some day, if not today, those children are going to fight with someone, maybe even you.  Perhaps my sharing this will spare you some of the suffering learning experiences I’ve had over the years.

I don’t know any parent that loves to hear their children fighting.  Even if we recognize that conflict is inevitable and children need to learn how to work through things together, children fighting can be maddening and put even the most calm parent on edge.  For years when my children would fight I would tell them to “work it out” or that if they couldn’t make peace together then I’d have to get involved and nobody would be happy.  My involvement as a threat was probably not the most healthy option.  Sometimes I’d threaten to force them to be together.  Yes, I even tied their ankles together so they would “learn to cooperate and get along.”  It worked to some extent, then they had a common enemy: me.  Responding to their struggle with differences of opinion by forcing them to be together was a breeding ground for resentment even if it did momentarily lead to them “getting along” just so they could escape each other sooner.  More importantly though, my efforts were self-centered: I wanted them to stop fighting for me, because I didn’t want to hear the conflict.  Being motivated by my own desires to have a peaceful home meant I was missing a crucial opportunity to help my children learn how to use communication skills they would need later in life.

In my defense but not as an excuse, it was particularly challenging for me to seize that opportunity or even to recognize it for one very important reason: I didn’t really posses those skills myself.

As a mother I’ve learned and developed many skills because my children needed me to.  Or perhaps more accurately, in the process of trying to help my children learn and develop many skills, I have learned a lot about myself and developed those same skills.  Admittedly at times it has been more challenging for me than for them as I unlearn some unhealthy behavior patterns.  There is no doubt in my mind that my children have greatly pushed me to be a better person.  Conflict resolution and communication strategies that I previously did not posses I now have had numerous opportunities to not only learn and assist my children in putting into practice but can competently employ myself.  Sometimes.  I’m still working on it.  Better late than never.

Today if you visited our home it is likely you would hear something about the “peace path” or even be invited to participate in one with a member of our family.  Children from as young as 3 know how to walk the peace path if required, providing us all tools to work through conflict, grow in our communication, promote active listening, and develop personal responsibility in creating solutions that work for everyone.  The Piano Man and I have walked the path with our children and even my mom was invited to walk the peace path with one of our daughters when she was visiting.

It was a Montessori teacher that taught us the Peace Path some years ago and we use it often though less and less as the girls develop the skills needed for healthy conflict management on their own.  Here’s how we do it.

 conflict resolution, sibling rivalry, peace path, woods, peace, siblings, children, parenting

Peace Path- A Road to Conflict Resolution

Involved:

Two parties in conflict

One moderator (objective and not involved in the conflict- often a parent but it can be another sibling or peer)

Anyone can call for the peace path, even someone not involved in the actual conflict but affected by the conflict (i.e. parent sick and tired of hearing children fight).  Nobody should be forced to participate but the goal of a healthy and restored relationship made a priority.  In our home if one member is unwilling to participate in the Peace Path but the point of conflict is such that some intervention is required the individual refusing to actively seek resolution potentially forfeits their voice in the resolution outcome.  The idea being that if you want a say in how things turn out then you have to do the work, demands are not a part of healthy relationships but rather it is a cooperative effort.

There is a physical element to the Peace Path, particularly important for younger participants.  This physical piece helps develop healthy nonverbal communication such as looking someone in the eyes, body language that reflects attention, etc.  Realistic expectations appropriate for a child’s personal ability to engage according to their development is essential for the peace path to work well.  The parties start 3 large paces from each other, facing each other.  Along the Peace Path, each party takes a step towards each other for each step of the path.  The path is concluded when they shake hands and agree to the solution in step 3.

 

The Path

Step 1:

If the Peace Path was called by someone engaged in the conflict that person goes first.  If it was called by someone outside of the conflict, the moderator selects who goes first.

Party #1 states what they see as they conflict or problem (moderator may help clarify the conflict, summarizing it in 1 sentence if it becomes a tale of a series of events- conflict resolution is more effective with phrases such as “when you did… I felt…” or “the problem is that he has a toy that I want and he won’t share.”)

Party #2 repeats what party #1 stated as conflict, demonstrating that they heard and understand the conflict as #1 stated it.  At this point they are not permitted to say they agree or disagree or argue that this is or isn’t the conflict.

Moderator asks if #2 agrees that this is the conflict.  #2 may or may not agree.  If they do agree that this is the conflict then move on to step 2.  If they do not agree, repeat step 1 letting party #2 state what they see is the conflict.  If there are 2 different conflicts presented, agree which one will be addressed 1st and do the peace path for the different conflicts.  Often the 2nd conflict is actually resolved during the 1st conflict peace path.  Both parties must agree on the conflict before moving on to step 2 even if it requires repeating step 1 multiple times.

 

Step 2:

After taking a step forward, the moderator asks #1 to propose a solution.  (Moderator may need to help young travelers with this step and may intervene if parties agree to an unreasonable solution.)  Moderator asks #2 to repeat the solution #1 proposed.

Following party #1’s proposal, moderator asks if this solution is acceptable to #2.  If it is, the parties move on to step 3.  If it is not, the moderator asks #2 to propose an alternate solution.  Both parties must agree on the solution.  If this step is taking a while the moderator can interject a solution proposal combining elements from the solutions both parties proposed.  Young travelers may have difficult seeing beyond what they want to have happen in this step and moderator intervention can help bring the 2 together.  More mature travelers often can see how what they initial proposed is only looking out for themselves and having truly heard their fellow traveler on the path will find more of a compromise that meets both their needs.

 

Step 3:

Facing each other the two parties shake hands (or hug) and agree to enact the solution immediately.  The moderator reminds the 2 parties that failure to follow through on the agreed solution could result in a return to the Peace Path.  This ends the Peace Path.

 

This method of conflict resolution works for adults too though obviously modified as adults don’t need the physical element and hopefully no moderator required.  However, when there is conflict between an adult and a child, modeling this complete with the physical expression communicates great respect.  I have even called the Peace Path a time or two between my children and myself when I was exahausted by the conflict between them, particularly if it has been a repetative issue.  Our children have always appreciated us engaging fully in the Peace Path with them and some of the sweetest moments in our relationships with our daughters have come from making this journey with them.  The basic principles are the same for conflict resolution though and can be a helpful tool to work through for anyone.

The Peace Path can be time consuming and sometimes I really don’t want to assist my children in walking it.  I have to fight the desire to yell at them to knock it off, dismiss their conflict as ridiculous, and demand that they all learn to just get along.  But then I’d be sacrificing the opportunity to help them develop these skills and risk setting them down an unhealthy path of conflict management while neglecting my own development.  At least we are on this journey together.

this moment- sister cuddles

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soule Mama, one of my favorite bloggers.  A single photo (or two) – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your “moment” in the comments for all to find and see.

this moment- flash back

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soule Mama, one of my favorite bloggers.  A single photo (or two) – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your “moment” in the comments for all to find and see.

*This week’s moment is a blast from the past.  Earth Baby and Lolie circa fall 2007.

this moment- ballet with a big sister

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soule Mama, one of my favorite bloggers.  A single photo (or two) – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your “moment” in the comments for all to find and see.

this moment

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soule Mama, one of my favorite bloggers.  A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your “moment” in the comments for all to find and see.