Every ‘babywise’ parent knows the value of independent playtime, as it allows the little one to develop a myriad of helpful skills like mental focus, creativity, discipline, and a sustained attention span. But just as independent playtime is important to a child’s holistic upbringing, so too is sibling time. Think kids with siblings and your mind will naturally conjure up images of snarling, bickering little monsters pummelling each other all over the floor. However, according to Dr Laurie Kramer, one of the world’s leading experts on sibling relations, all that squabbling is part of healthy family life. What matters most is that siblings engage in healthy playtime as well.
Kramer’s body of research suggests that parents should worry less about how they stamp out sibling fights, and concentrate more on encouraging them to initiate play together. It’s not about conflict resolution, it’s conflict prevention. With less fighting, siblings will be more likely to initiate play in an amicable manner. Here are some sibling-friendly playtime ideas, or playtivities if you will, that can help brothers and sisters bond, foster teamwork, and enjoy a dose of healthy competition at the same time. Remember, kids, play nice!
The Floor Is Lava!
This classic never gets old, and requires up to two players for a full experience. Let the kiddos jump from furniture to furniture without touching the floor unless it’s a strategically placed cushion. The aim is to keep moving without touching the floor of ‘lava’ while trying to make the other do so and ‘melt’. Do moderate and ensure things don’t get too rough.
What better way to let your kids have fun and get to know each other better at the same time? Detective, played by two or more kids, sees each child taking a turn to ask the other a fun or personal question, such as “What are you most afraid of?” or “Sweet or salty popcorn?”. Not only does this stimulate communication between older and younger siblings, thus bridging their age gap, it also helps them establish a closer bond.
Perfect for hands-on children, encouraging your kids to build a fort together gets them on the same page and is one of their first projects in life. Let them experiment with a range of different ‘building materials’ like pillows and blankets, and watch them set aside their differences to construct a secret world before happily demolishing it after.
Out on the lawn and in need of a boredom buster? This simple game is ideal for the great outdoors where space is ample and free of dangerous objects. All you need is an old T-shirt and some popcorn to enjoy the show as you watch the kids squeeze into one shirt and having to work together to get around. Teaches a good lesson on teamwork and unity as well.
Are you welcoming Baby Number 2 to the brood? Read our latest article on weathering the sibling rivalry in the Nov/Dec issue of Parents World magazine, out on newsstands now!