ScienceDaily (July 19, 2010) — Many moms and dads say the toughest part of parenting is keeping the peace when their kids squabble and bicker. But making an end to conflict your primary focus is a mistake, said Laurie Kramer, a University of Illinois professor of applied family studies and co-editor of a special section of Child Development Perspectives devoted to sibling relationships.
Parents should concentrate more on all the positive things they can do to help their children get along, Kramer said in an article she wrote for the special section.
"Even if you're successful at reducing conflict and antagonism, research suggests that you'll probably be left with little positive interaction between siblings. Do you really want your kids to head for their rooms and spend time mainly on their own interests and with their own friends?" she asked.
She urges parents to think about the relationship they want their kids to have with each other--now and as adults--and to be intentional in helping them create that positive, supportive bond.
"Most parents would like for their kids to be able to talk with each other, have fun together, and be a source of support for each other during stressful times in their lives," she said.
Kramer knows siblings can learn the skills that enable them to be more supportive brothers and sisters because her own research has demonstrated it. She is the creator of the U of I's extremely successful More Fun with Sisters and Brothers program.
Here are some ways parents can support these positive changes in their own families:
* Help your children learn to see things from their sibling's perspective and to respect other people's points of view.
* Teach them to identify and manage their emotions and behaviors when they're in challenging and frustrating situations.
* Teach your kids not to assume the worst about their sibling's or anyone else's intentions.
* Show them that conflict is a problem that can be solved and teach them how to do it.
* Try to meet each child's unique needs without showing favoritism.
* Teach them to use their unique knowledge of each other to strengthen their bond rather than taking advantage of each other's weaknesses.
* Promote play, conversation, mutual interests, and fun.
* Praise your kids when they help, support, and cooperate with each other.