Navigating Sibling Relationships in the Tween Years
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I remember the moment well when each one of my children met their new sibling.
It honestly felt like time stood still.
As a mom of five children, I cherished this moment when the first connection would be made. A sibling connection that would last a lifetime.
I would daydream about the days ahead of them playing together for hours, sharing (remember this is a daydream), sharing a room, and spending their childhood days together.
Well, I soon learned quickly that those early years with siblings, I played the role of referee. Trying to navigate their sibling relationships and make sure that everything was “fair.”
It did not take me long to realize that this was an impossible task because “fair” is just not always possible. In fact, it is a good thing that everything is not fair because it is important to learn how to put other people first, to wait, and to be patient. These are all characteristics that can be learned through sibling relationships.
I have found tips and tricks that work along the way, and many of these ideas I have been able to tweak and use even with my now 10-year-old and his four younger siblings.
My Day, Your Day
One of the favorite things I use with my kids is our My Day, Your Day System.
It is so simple. Every child has one day of the week. It rotates through the week.
For example, if Brinkley is Monday, then Colston is Tuesday, Hartley is Wednesday, Kinsler is Thursday, and Cannon is Friday. Then, the rotation starts over – Brinkley is Saturday, Colston is Sunday, etc.
I not only keep a paper calendar printed out in our kitchen, I also put the days on my calendar each month. This really helps when we are out and about.
Why does this work?
It has completely eliminated the need to fight over who gets to choose the movie or the game or who gets to go first in the shower or who gets to run into Target with mom while dad stays in the car.
All I have to do is say “Whose day is it?” and everyone immediately knows whose turn it is.
This is a great teaching tool to remind tweens that it is not all about them.
There are other family members to consider. I know this is a life skill that all of my children will need as they get older.
For a complete idea of how this system works, feel free to find it HERE. (There is also a free printable there to get you started right away!)
Three Simple Words
Another trick that I learned about a year ago was the magic of three simple words. I know that I stumbled upon this on Pinterest one day, but it has been some time and cannot find the source.
When my children are arguing about where they are sitting to eat their snack or whose turn it is to play with a toy, I ask “How can you make it better?”
Sometimes my preschoolers can figure this out, but my tween son definitely knows the answer.
Once I give him the gentle reminder that it takes two to cause a conflict, then he can usually figure out a good way to make it better.
Again, this tactic is helping my tween learn an important skill about conflict and making sure he owns up to his piece of the puzzle.
Keep Tweens Involved
Possibly one of the most important things to keep sibling relationships a priority is to keep tweens involved in family activities.
Sometimes tweens want space of their own, and that is ok to a certain extent.
But it is crucial that tweens know the non-negotiables.
In our home, we eat our meals together (with no electronics). We do not allow closed doors in bedrooms unless they are sleeping. There are no electronics allowed upstairs or in a bedroom. They must always be in full sight of the family.
And they are still required to help out with smaller siblings. I have found that by giving my tween responsibility in helping me with the little ones and managing our home, he takes more ownership.
While it is easy to not make them come to their sister’s gymnastics performance or let them play down the street with neighborhood kids all afternoon, it is important that tweens feel involved with their sibling’s activities.
In our home, we try to attend all sporting events together as a family. We want to each support one another and be each other’s biggest fans. As kids grow, it is important that this stays a part of their life. If you need help coming up with your non-negotiables, grab this FREE Parenting Goals Worksheet. CLICK HERE.
So now we want to hear from you! What ways do you keep sibling relationships a priority during the tween years?
Keep up the good work parenting your tween!!