My children have a clubhouse. It’s got a clubhouse sign, a password and even a calculator outside so you can punch in a PIN before entering. They will go to their clubhouse and spend forever talking, playing and who-really-knows-what-they-do. And where is this awesome clubhouse? In the backyard? In some old refrigerator boxes? The woods? Nope. It’s in the cabinets under my son’s bathroom sink. But to my kids it’s Swiss Family Robinson’s Tree House!
My favorite part of the clubhouse is the sign. I took a picture of it so you can see it in all it’s glory…
And in case you can’t read Kindergarten-er, here’s the translation, “Secret Hideout. We go inside everyday. Brothers and Sisters come in. Only Lydia and Asa. You can come and check on us.” I love that it’s just a brother and sister hideout. One of my top-ten parenting goals is to make sure my kids are the best of friends. I actively work on their relationship and help them work on it, too.
Here’s some ways (I hope) we’re helping them stay the best of friends…
1. Keep Them Together
One reason we decided to homeschool is so the kids could be together most of the day. Of course, you don’t have to homeschool to keep your kids’ tight. But you can limit after-school activities, or at least do after-school stuff together. You can make a priority to do family activities everyone enjoys–camping, movies, games and more. You can eat meals together, have all the family involved in bedtime routines and even sit at church together. Give them the opportunity to make memories, play together and work together.
2. Keep Them Respectful
The two biggest “sins” in our household are disrespecting Mommy and Daddy AND disrespecting siblings. If I hear whining, yelling, complaining at the other sibling, I will not allow it to go on. We work on apologizing to each other, hugging and keeping our words gentle. It’s hard but I don’t want the after-school-cartoon standard of “Ugh! My little brother is sooooo annoying!” to be the norm in our household.
One of my favorite tricks for keeping siblings loving even when they don’t want to is from our illustrious editor, Mandi. She says she has her girls sit in time-out holding hands until they are ready to be kind. Here’s how it usually goes down…
3. Keep Them Sharing
One of the best parenting tips I ever received was from my friend, Jodi (mom of 5 girls and 1 adopted boy!). She said when her daughters are fighting over a toy she says, “If you’re loving that toy more than you’re loving each other then it’s time to put it away.” It puts the fighting in perspective and has a built in consequence.
I’ve used this several times with my kids and I know sometimes they probably do think, “I’d rather have the toy!” but it still shows what we value in our home. Not fairness. Not equality in playing time. We value each other. We value relationship.
4. Brainwash Them
My kids are only 3 and 6 so this is a little easier now. When they go to bed, I make them give hugs and say, “I love you!” It usually ends in a hugging-wrestling-giggling match. I tell them, “She’s your best friend!” and “You will be best friends forever!” on a regular basis. And you know what? They believe it!
I know how much I love my little brother (who is now taller than me, married with a daughter and owns his own business), and I want my children to know that forever relationship of loving your sibling. I want them to recognize the built-in best friend God gave them–for their whole life!
How do you help your kids become and stay best friends?
Originally published at LifeYourWay.net