One of the articles that recently gained the most interest from our
10 Tips for Better Communication within the Family
, a result, perhaps, of the difficult times we have been going through as a
Being stuck under the same roof without any other commitments or external
distractions has made us see our closest relationships for what they truly
are; it has led us to rediscover balance – or re-establish it – aiming at a
healthy, happy, calm coexistence with our loved ones.
Today we are going to tackle another theme that concerns communication at
home. This will be an article for grandparents and parents in particular:
How can we teach children to communicate better as siblings?
Parents of Two or More Siblings, Rather Than Several Only Children
Having more than one child requires us to take care of each of them, making
sure than none lacks anything they need to thrive. Our job is also to raise
We are obliged, as educators, to nourish their relationships with each
other as well, until they are grown and able to manage on their own.
How many siblings are, unfortunately, “only children” who happen to be
raised in the same home? How many lack closeness, respect, and mutual
I wish I could say nothing of the sort exists, because it seems so
nonsensical, but as I type, many come to mind.
And what do they have in common? Sadly, parents who have failed to foster a
strong fraternal bond.
Family: Life’s First School
It is a fact that children spend most of their time with their family. It
is a truism that family environment also influences them more than any
other as they grow up.
The good and bad examples they witness, the values transmitted or
neglected, their inner peace or hostility, the reciprocity or closure they
see will decide which path their lives follow.
Montessori says that the wounds imprinted on the soul during early
childhood years remain forever.
Looking at this positively, we could also say the opposite: the love that
surrounds us in those early years will bring us to become people who are
able to love with ease. The relational skills we learn at home as children
will help us in school, in friendships, in work environments, etc. To
borrow a definition from sociologist Pierpaolo Donati, we could say that
the family unit is the first matrix of society. It is so important that
this germinal cell – a basic part of the “community body” – thrives!
Four Guidelines for Teaching Our Children That They Are Siblings
Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. We’d like to propose just 4 ideas to
help our children as they grow, to be able to interact with their siblings.
Facilitate mutual understanding by encouraging them to be open in
It is very easy to interpret another’s behavior negatively (“He’s just
selfish,” “He doesn’t love me,” “He doesn’t care about how I feel”). The
first step to understanding, coming together, and making peace might be to
ask clear and direct questions about why the other person behaved a certain
way. Instead of drawing conclusions of your own, it’s important to be
humble and ask the other person what they are feeling – what motivates them
to do certain things. Children will get used to the fact that dialogue is
important and that only by truly listening to one other can we get along.
Be the first to question themselves.
It is so important that children learn to be able to admit their fault at a
very young age. They need to learn how to let themselves be challenged.
Sometimes others have every right to be angry with us, because at times we
are objectively in the wrong. We can admit this and apologize. This is how
children learn that they make mistakes, but their mistakes do not define
them. They also learn that relationships with siblings are worth more than
Tone is very important: it helps to stay calm and speak without
. To understand each other, to really encounter each other, to resolve a
misunderstanding, how we address the other person is fundamental. If we
attack the other person, it is much more difficult for them to listen to me
and to reflect. We must teach our children to welcome others with all their
faults and to put aside contempt for the person (as the saying does: one
must hate the sin, not the sinner).
Describe the situation to the siblings from your own perspective.
It is important to act as mediators – to objectively explain how you see
the situation that has arisen. “In my opinion, John pushed you because you
took his toy without asking permission,” “Jack got angry because pushing is
always a bad thing, even if he didn’t behave well.” It is rare that one
side is either totally right or totally wrong when there’s a disagreement.
Many times, both/all need to take a step back, then move one step back
toward the other. Let’s help them if they can’t do it on their own….