Kids should compare their schoolwork, test scores, and report cards only to their own previous work—never to the work of their siblings or friends. Instead of stimulating a child to work harder, comparisons are more likely to fuel resentment.
Family nicknames like Shorty, Clumsy, or Klutz can cause unfair family ribbings and fuel sibling resentment. "Don't worry, he's just the family klutz" as well as become daily reminders of incompetence. These kinds of labels often stick and become difficult to erase, not only within but also outside your family as well.
All kids deserve to hear from parents what makes them unique. Knowledge of that talent nurtures their self-esteem as well as setting them apart from their siblings. Ideally, you should nurture a different strength for each sibling based on natural temperament and interests. Once you identify the talent, find opportunities to cultivate and validate it so each child can be acknowledged for their strength.
One way to let each child feel treasured is by spending alone just with each parent. Capitalize on those individual moments as they arise: "Your brother's asleep. Let's just you and I go read books together." Or make a date with each sibling to have special time just with you then mark it on the calendar. How frequently you meet is based on what's realistic for your schedule: thirty minutes weekly, ten minutes daily, an hour every other week. Arrange for another adult to watch other siblings or choose a time when they're gone. "Together" occasions could be: a movie, a walk, lunching at a favorite restaurant, kite flying, an ice cream outing, or just time alone. Then enjoy each other without siblings around.
Don't overlook one of the simplest ways to boost sibling harmony: catch them supporting each other. The moments may be few and far between, but when they do help, share, cooperate, and work well together, tell them you appreciate their efforts. They're more likely to repeat the behaviors because they know that's what you want them to do.
Now that you've learned the Mine Mommy Secrets how will you use them to achieve long-term change? You might want to take a moment to write down exactly what promise you want to make to yourself and your family. For instance, which simple secret you will commit to doing within the next twenty-four hours to make a real difference in your family. Then don’t give up until you get the change you want.
Michele Borba, Ed.D., is an educational psychologist, former teacher, and mom who is recognized for offering research-driven advice culled from a career of working with over one million parents, educators, and children. A frequent Today show contributor she also appears on Dr. Phil, The View, CNN American Morning, and The Early Show, Michele is the author of 22 books including her latest release, "The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries." Visit her daily blog on or follow her on twitter.
Copyright © Michele Borba. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org.