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Ways to Get Your Children to Encourage Each Other

February 5, 2014

encourageIt’s common for siblings to tease, argue and even annoy one another on a daily basis, but when sibling rivalry takes over and the conversations between your children are primarily negative, it’s time to make a change. Siblings may not realize it at a young age, but as constant companions, they rely on each other for support and encouragement.

Show your children how to encourage one another to not only strengthen their sibling bond, but also to boost self-esteem and self-image, both common issues among young people.

Focus on the Positive

Even though it may be sparse, there are probably times when your children are already encouraging each other. Focus on the times they do, however rare, suggests Jamie Rishikof, Massachusetts-based psychologist. “Really offer sincere and specific praise and explain why you like what they just said or did,” he says.

Even though there will be times you will need to correct your children for slewing insults or harsh words at each other, use this time to reinforce the positive ways you expect them to communicate. Instead of phrases such as “we don’t put down each other,” show your children how to encourage each other with prompts such as “tell me how you can support your brother or sister in a positive manner.”

Reward Encouraging Behavior

Children are often motivated by rewards, so it helps to teach behaviors you expect by offering incentives at first. “I suggest shared rewards, such as a point system for some desired items, for time spent together with no conflicts where the parent needs to intervene,” says Rishikof. “The siblings will share responsibility for getting along or repairing when harm is done.”

A reward system can be on display with a sticker chart in your home or a list of encouraging phrases you overheard that add up to a privilege.

“When there is a conflict, which is inevitable, they share a motivation to resolve it themselves and appease each other, instead of battling for the upper hand,” says Rishikof. “In such a model, when a parent overhears a conflict, or is called in, he or she can remind the kids that if he or she comes in, there is no reward and then give them the opportunity to calm down and find a mutually acceptable solution or compromise.”

Rishikof suggests parents say the following when conflict occurs and children are not encouraging or supporting each other: “Do I need to come in there? Because you know if I come in there then you will stop getting to play with that and you are each going to your room. And, you will each not get a point for today. If you want your points, you need to stop fighting and find a way to resolve this.”

Teach Encouraging Behaviors

As a parent or nanny, you play a crucial role in helping your child learn how to support and encourage others. When your child is in need, you show them you care by nurturing that ‘boo boo’ or offering a comforting hug.

Whether your notice it or not, your children are observing your encouraging behaviors and imitating your actions when they’re in similar situations. It’s important to model the behavior you want your children to imitate.

Beyond providing an example through modeling, parents and nannies can also teach children how to encourage each other through everyday activities. According to the child experts at PBS.org, every time you say “please” or “thank you” to a child, you are teaching them expected behaviors that encourage and support others.

Acknowledge these behaviors in your child and engage them in active teaching. “Active teaching means giving attention and praise to children in ways that enhance their sense of satisfaction from within,” explain the child experts at PBS.org. “Active teaching also means providing good examples and role models for children.”

One surefire way to teach your child the patience to encourage others is through play opportunities with other children. “Play is one of the most important ways children learn about and explore how to behave with other people,” the child experts at PBS.org explain.

While observing your children playing with others, take note of their ability to share and encourage others during games or playground time. If your daughter compliments her brother on how high he can climb or swing, bring it to her attention later so she recognizes the positive behavior she exhibited.

In addition, the child experts at PBS.org suggest the following to help your child encourage others:

  • Encourage children to assume different roles in their pretend play.
  • Help them express their own feelings and encourage them to listen to other people’s feelings.
  • Try to link one child’s feelings to another child’s by reminding them of their own past experiences in similar situations.

Teaching your child to encourage other children not only seeps into their social development, but also their ability to get along and support his or her siblings.


One Response to Ways to Get Your Children to Encourage Each Other

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Robin says:

What do you do if you have one child who is encouraging their sibling, but the other never offers encouragement back? I feel like we do all the things you mentioned but I still can’t get my oldest to respond with the same kindness and support his sister does…