How To Get Siblings To Get Along


August 30, 2018  |  Claire Russell

"How do I get my kids to play together?"

 

This must be one of the most common questions I am asked since starting playHOORAY! So, if you are one of those parents or carers wondering how to support multiple children to play, you are not alone! It seems that there are many, many, MANY of you out there looking for the magic solution.

 

I'm sorry to tell you there are no magic solutions, however there are a few suggestions in this post that you can try and see what works for you and your family. It's all about what works for you!

 

As an Early Years Specialist, I have experience of working with young children however this is only in a school setting. And as you are well aware, life at home with siblings is very different! I currently have only one child, my little boy Mason and so I do not have the personal experience to share with you. I felt unable to answer this question and didn't want to throw theory and vague ideas about, yet I really, really wanted to help.

 

In order to answer your question, I have reached out to a bunch of well-known names from Instagram who have multiple children at home covering a variety of ages. I asked if they would kindly share their tips and tricks for how they support their children to play at home. Their ideas and suggestions are fantastic and I cannot wait to share them with you.

 

 

I have learnt so much putting this blog piece together for you and I hope you are able to find something in the following contributions that will help you at home with multiple children.

 

Deborah James @bowelbabe 

Two children aged 8 and 10

 

- let them sort out their own fights but let them know where the line is (hitting each other etc)
- don’t buy two of everything the same - they have to learn to share
- don’t always feel like you have to buy both kids equal toys on the same day - it all shakes out eventually!
- know that they are just as likely to enjoy the same things as they won’t
- let kids chose what they want to play with rather than enforcing them
To play with what you think they want. My cupboards look like an unused Lego store - because that’s what I thought they wanted.
-Encourage them to play games - older kids love treasure hunts. I taught them how to create them and now they make them up for each other.
Encourage them to not play in their rooms. (This is my personal choice) but I don’t like the idea of “my bedroom” and you can’t come in. Make sure they are welcome in each other’s rooms and have a communal space to be together in.
Depending on age - just let them get on with it. Don’t direct what they must play
 

 

@daddytotripletgirls

four children, aged 4 and triplets under 1

We have to get three of everything the same at the moment or else there are some serious fights! 
The girls love playing together and they seem to love toys aimed at boys as much as girls

 

@fiveminutemum
two children, aged 4 and 2


My first tip is setting games or activities up on two trays. I’ve got two identical IKEA trays and whenever we do Ice Smashing or Letter Diggers or treasure hunts etc. I always have two versions of whatever it is. And if it’s an activity for “learning” letters/numbers/colours etc. I will do a variation to make it age appropriate. So for Florence (2) during Letter Diggers she just has to match up the letter.
For Ewan (4) he has to find the letter and write it down.


Secondly, my Golden Rule comes in to this. So I never tell kids we are going to play something. I just set it up and leave it out. Then I can set it up before they start arguing over who gets what or who’s playing. It’s just already there, and I say “this is yours and this is yours” so they are straight into the activity, distracted by their own immediately so less chance of noting what the other has and fighting over it!


And my final tip as always is FIVE MINUTE timers!! So if they are fighting over Mummy time. I set a timer for five minutes play each. I stick out a large toy we can all play like Duplo, blocks, trains, role play. Then I say we do Five Minutes of what Flo wants to play and five minutes of Ewan. If it’s a timer beeping rather than Mummy saying “time to swap” they seem to be more accepting of it.
 

Jess Lawes from @themumclub

four children, including twin babies


My eldest two have always got on pretty well with them being close in age they are interested in the same things. That doesn’t mean they never have fall outs though . I find they play best and for longest when we set up a role play situation. Normally set on their favourite tv programme or superhero’s. Set the scene, talk about who they are rescuing or mission they are on and what part of the house is the spaceship etc.
Then they are off playing for ages. Developing there own story.

Rosie and Emilie @the_play_at_home_mummas

four children under 4

 

- Lots of positive praise of any sharing (however short lived!) and comment on what they actually did, for example “I love it when you share the glue with your sister” rather than just “that’s kind”.
- Having lots of different tools to hand where possible. You can guarantee they’ll both want the thing you only have one of but having lots helps!
- Give the older of the two a role or job to do. Putting them in charge of something or asking them to help teach the younger sibling makes them feel important.
- If sharing is becoming really tricky, use a timer. The younger the children the shorter the time.
- It sounds mean but if my eldest really isn’t sharing I tend to focus completely on my youngest and give her all the attention until she decides to share. Don’t give attention to behaviour you don’t like!
- Give the older of the two a role or job to do. Putting them in charge of something or asking them to help teach the younger sibling makes them feel important.
- If sharing is becoming really tricky, use a timer. The younger the children the shorter the time.
- It sounds mean but if my eldest really isn’t sharing I tend to focus completely on my youngest and give her all the attention until she decides to share. Don’t give attention to behaviour you don’t like!
- Activities often focus on the eldest, who is more able to do things, so create something they can work together on to give the little one a chance - water and messy play it’s great for this!


Rebekah from @beckys_treasure_baskets

three children, aged 9, 4 and 22 months

 
 I often try and do activities they can both join in together then when little man sleeps I do something with my 4 year old and then I try and do something for just my little man so I always doesn't always happen just try do stuff for everyone. You always have that guilt your not spending enough time with one. so I just always try and make sure I spend time with especially my two younger ones and we play together and I involve them both and get my 4 year old to help out by asking "do you want to give him a cup or help him do this."


Al and Jen @thedadnetwork

three children


I'd say that a 3 and 6 year old have very different play ideas but all children of all ages love messy play and so we set up daily messy play activities in the garden and they come and go to the tuff spot as they please. We use jelly, ice, gloop, sand, water etc to make an activity that is inviting to all ages and then just let them discover it and play with it as and when they please. Child led play based activities that interest children of all ages.

Emily @mrsemilynorris

three children

 

Extract from a recent post

The main thing that I believe has bonded them together has been getting them to help me with caring for each other. I've done this partly through necessity and partly to teach them to be caring. I'll ask Fraser to help Caleb with his shoes, or ask Caleb to feed Jackson his yoghurt. I think they know that it's their responsibilty to care for each other as much as me and Matt's.

Steph @steph_dontbuyherflowers

three children including a baby under one

 

My eldest two are only 21 months apart and don't know life without each other, so they do play together a lot. It tends to be Mabel (who is 5) doing what Buster (7) wants to do, which I think is pretty normal. I had five siblings and it was always about doing what the older ones wanted! There's a big enough gap between them and the baby that they find him really entertaining. At first they wanted to move him around a lot and he'd get upset but I think the best way to teach them how to interact with him has been showing by example, and when they see how much Frank enjoys it and starts interacting back, they mimic us. So building towers and encouraging him to knock them down, or reading a book and doing the animal sounds. I've started to catch them doing it without us there - they're like mini parents with him - and that's lovely.

 

I hope these wonderful contributions are able to offer some ideas and inspiration for you to try. As I often say, it's about finding what works for you and your family. So don't expect a magic solution but perhaps read through these suggestions and see which ones would fit with your family dynamic.

 

I also hope that this piece is comforting to anyone feeling that they are the only one struggling with this. Please don't doubt yourself as a parent, as you can see from the passages above, everyone finds it hard at some point.

 

 

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this blog post. I know in our busy worlds of being parents that time is precious so I really appreciate you finding the time to help and inspire others.

 

Happy Playing!

Claire x