Teaching Siblings to have an Attitude of Responsibility

When I became pregnant with my daughter my son was 3 years old. We had 8 months to talk about what it meant to be a big brother and how life would be different. When my daughter came my son was instantly 'in love' with her and we created an attitude of responsibility in him. He is responsible for taking care of her. When she was a baby she couldn't be responsible for him, but as she grew we started creating an attitude of responsibility in her as well. She is responsible for taking care of him too. He watches out for her and she watches out for him.

I am almost daily asking them to watch out for each other and to help each other. Every day I ask them to tell each other they love each other and communicate their feelings as much as they can. They do it now out of habit and automatically, each one caring for the other and worrying about the others well being. If one hurts or upsets the other, immediately it is their responsibility to make them feel better. I don't send them off to their room or have them give a half assed apology. They are responsible for making the other happy again.

By now your probably thinking I'm locco and their is no way your kids will do this. I would have both of them stand in front of me and ask questions about what happened and then ask questions putting them in each others shoes, sorta speak. "How would you feel if he.... " In the end they would have to hug and say I love you. I would remind the one that made the infraction that it was their responsibility to make the other happy again, not mine. I didn't make the child cry, I wasn't the one to fix it, they needed to fix it.

I would give them choices as well, try to ask enough leading questions as possible to get to the end result. The main thing for me was to stay out of it. I didn't punish or fix, they had to do it themselves. If I stepped in as enforcer, I would be creating a wedge between them and not teaching them how to fix the relationship themselves. It takes extra effort and self control on your part, but in the end you will have a lot less headaches and a lot less work to do.

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