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The Secret to Amazing Sibling Relationships

Jeff:
What’s up guys. Welcome back to another episode of Five Minute Fatherhood. I’m excited about today’s topic because it’s something we actually get asked a lot because we’ve shared a little bit about it on family teams and some other places, and that’s the concept of sibling one-on-ones. A lot of us in our marriages, we believe in going on dates as spouses. A lot of us don’t though cultivate a spirit or a home where the siblings go on dates, if you want to call it, or one-on-ones, or hang out times, or activities or adventures. But it’s deeply, deeply pivotal to a family team culture. So Jeremy, I want to hear how do you coach siblings to have good one-on-ones with each other and how do you guys do that?

Jeremy:
Yeah, so this is a really important thing and a lot of times we don’t really think about how much we get to curate that relationship between siblings while they’re in our house. It takes some strategy, it takes some intentionality, but it’s really not that difficult to use a tool like this and that would be to actually schedule one-on-ones between siblings. This is something in our house that we have. Each child has a one-on-one twice a week. One’s on Saturday, one’s on Sunday and so sometimes those are with me and April, but oftentimes they’re scheduled with another sibling.

So a few things that we’ve told them is make it special. Really have a deep conversation, ask each other good questions. We’ve given them a few questions to ask. Really talk about what’s on your heart, what’s on your mind, how are your relationships? So we have a set of different questions we want. We really want there to be a heart connection during that conversation. So actually making sure that you’re in an undistracted place, you’re experiencing something kind of special. Oftentimes that can be as simple, one of the things we did for awhile was we would ask the kids, “What’s kind of your favorite drink.?” There’s that aisle in the grocery store where it has all those kind of really cool drinks.

Jeff:
Yeah. Different sodas and drinks.

Jeremy:
Little glass bottles and stuff. Yeah. We would say, “Okay, this is the drink that you’re going to have during your one-on-ones.” It’s special. It’s only for that time and so it sort of creates almost a little coffee shop between them and a sibling.

Jeff:
I love that.

Jeremy:
They sit down, have their drink, it causes them to have a pace to the conversation. So they’re taking a drink. “Well, how are you doing?” Some of the times they go for a walk. Now that our kids are getting a little bit older, our older kids that can drive are actually taking their siblings out on more dates.

Jeff:
That’s cool.

Jeremy:
They go grab ice cream, grab coffee, go out to lunch. Go for a little outing, head to the park, something like that. But yeah, I would say those are the elements of really coaching your siblings. Make sure that it’s scheduled. Make sure that there’s something special and protected about the time. Maybe having some kind of signal that we’re having a slow paced conversation and then a few questions like what’s on your mind? Talk about your relationships. You can talk through your highs and lows, try to really understand and listen to one another.

A lot of times siblings they live with each other, they rub each other the wrong way a lot and they never have a chance to really dial into each other’s hearts. So they don’t have a lot of grace for each other if they’re not really listening to one another and hearing what are the hard things that are going on in your life? What are the things you’re really wrestling with? So this is one tool. There’s other tools I think that are really important for cultivating sibling relationships. But as your kids get older, and this obviously is a little bit more for kids that are probably seven, eight, nine plus, but I would begin to really get more and more intentional with this kind of a tool. But yeah. Any other thoughts on that, Jeff?

Jeff:
Yeah, I don’t have much. So we’ll just end with this. I think I’m excited to take it there because I know building those heart… We’re a family that’s very much… We’re a talking family, we love talking, we love going deep, we love connection. So I’m excited for that season but right now I feel like we’re setting the stones to get there with toddlers where they’re not having heart to hearts. They’re not doing that. But I think the way you can really set them up for success a decade from now is to get them very comfortable hanging out together “alone”. What I mean by that is we set our kids up to hang out together alone just for shared activity, but it’s not really alone because they’re supervised through a monitor is what I’m saying.

I think just that practice, it’s really fun and cute to watch. Meaning I go put the kids in the garage, which is kind of our faux play room and there’s a Nest out there where I can watch them on an app on my phone and I leave and I just kind of watch them. How are they doing and what are they doing? Or I’ll work and can listen and hear out for them. But I think constantly we put them in that situation. It’s mainly for just kind of to get to log the hours, log the hours of comfortability hanging out with each other where mom and dad are not this main anchor or mediator always in the room.

Sometimes they fight, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes it’s cute, sometimes it isn’t. But that’s more about logging the hours. So that then, I think a decade from now they’re already uber comfortable just kind of hanging out together and doing shared activity. So that’s what I would end on of if you’re in the toddler stage, just start setting precedence, just start kind of setting those things so that then once it’s heart level conversations, you’re not kind of jumping through five hoops to try to even make them comfortable to hang out. You’ve already done that alone and now it’s just now teaching them how to ask questions, engage with each other and stuff like that.

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