Friday, December 13, 2013

Building Strong Sibling Relationships Through Unsupervised Play

{Sibling Play Tips}

Sometimes it is the simplest moments that seem the most magical. 

We have a few calming, quiet and short videos that we will put on for the boys every now and then in their room in the evenings. They crowd onto one of their small mattresses together, cuddle up under a blanket and then we shut the door. What happens next is the magic -- no, it's not they are quiet and captivated by the video. It is quite the opposite. It is that I hear them babbling together -- sometimes about their show, sometimes not. The point is, they are all alone in their room, without toys even, sharing a very small and tight space together with NO fussing, fighting, pushing, or arguing. They are simply enjoying each other's company, and it always brings a smile to my face.

I love hearing them giggling together and whispering their little secrets to one another, and I love thinking that maybe, just maybe, my husband and I are doing something right! 

Our boys are just under 2 years apart in age, and they can have their moments. They can quarrel with the best of them, and there have certainly been toys and activities that they've lost privileges to enjoy because all they seem to do when they have them is argue. But, they are also learning to work it out. We try and make sure we give them opportunities for (safe) "unsupervised" play -- opportunities to feel that they have some privacy and the power to problem solve situations together and to learn to cooperate. It is not always easy to do this, but we're learning that it is important. 

Sometimes, they'll come ask me to intervene (or tattle), but I'll insist that they work it out. Sometimes, they come running to me for comfort, but I'll put them back together and gently encourage them to comfort each other. Sometimes, I simply shut the door. It sends a message -- that I trust them. I'm empowering them to help each other and forgive each other. Hopefully, this allows them to build a strong relationship with each other. It is likely that many, many years from now they will not have their father and I, but they will have each other.  

I started this sibling play series in April to replace my popular baby play series and what I appreciate about the series the most is that it encourages me to take note of what activities encourage positive play and cooperation between Wild Thing and Caterpillar so that I can nurture those experiences. It helps me to listen, and if I can listen, I can learn. 

Do you have more than one child? How do you foster a strong relationship between your children? Do you feel that providing children with privacy is important? Please share. 

Thanks for reading -- You might also like: 
Learning Empathy Through Sibling Play
Sibling Play + Letter I Learning Activities
Jell-O Sensory Play 
Pinecone Painting     


  1. I totally agree with you!! I have 4 kids very close in age (ages 6-9) and when I frequently send them outside or upstairs to just play.. unstructured, unsupervised PLAY:). I love what they come up with on their own and how they work out their squabbles. Do they argue? Of course they do! But they usually can figure it out and are getting better about being fair now that they are older.

  2. Oh, I could totally see this growing into them watching videos together as teenagers and adults. So fun!!! I agree with your approach completely - and, so far, it has worked out well for my kids - as it worked out well for me and my siblings!