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13 Ways To Raise Kids Who Love And Care For Each Other

13 Ways To Raise Kids Who Love And Care For Each Other

If you have kids, then you know that the fighting between them can seem endless. And while it may drive us parents crazy, it’s actually quite normal and healthy for siblings to fight. However, where is the line between ‘normal’ and ‘not normal’? How can you be assured that your kids will grow up and eventually get along? Here are 13 ways to raise kids who love and care for each other:

1. Start early – make good relationships a priority.

Even if you have teenagers, it’s not too late. However, if you have babies, toddlers, or younger children, you’re in luck. You have a wonderful opportunity to start early. Make sure you teach them the importance of getting along and being kind to one another. Model that behavior yourself, too.

2. Teach them to have a ‘We mentality,’ not a ‘Me mentality.’

Let’s face it – human beings are inherently selfish. It’s pretty much a survival mechanism. So what parents have to do is to socialize their kids out of the ‘Me mentality.’ Tell your kids that they are a team. In fact, the whole family is a team. Everyone’s actions affect everyone else’s. If you remind them enough times, it will eventually sink in.

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3. Demonstrate and teach positive ways to work through arguments.

First, look at yourself. How do you work through conflict with other people (especially the other parent)? Do you yell and scream at each other? Or do you sit down peacefully and work out your problems in a rational manner? Hopefully, it’s the latter. But if not, you need to start by working on your conflict skills. Once you have learned how to work through arguments yourself, you can teach your kids to do the same. Sit down with them and talk them through the process. Teach them that there are positive ways to ‘fight.’

4. Recognize and encourage all children when one of them accomplishes something.

Maybe Johnny won a basketball championship. Or perhaps Jane brought home straight A’s all year. Whatever it is, make sure that you celebrate all accomplishments. Have the kids congratulate each other. And even if one or more of the kids isn’t accomplishing as much as another sibling, you can still be positive and encourage them to try their best – and tell them that you are proud of all of them. They are all unique.

5. Teach them to respect each other’s personal space and possessions.

Personal boundaries are important to many people. And when boundaries are crossed, usually a conflict ensues. Teach your children that sometimes people just need to be alone. And if they want to borrow a toy or another possession, they should ask permission. They should not just ‘take’ from another person and assume that everything will be okay.

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6. Show how to give and receive an apology.

I’m sure we’ve all seen pathetic apologies from our kids many times. I know I have. You know the one: where they roll their eyes and mumble that they’re sorry. Make them look at each other in the eyes, speak clearly, and say, “I’m sorry,” over and over until you think they sound like the mean it. Then tell them that it’s easy to say those words, but when someone is really sorry, they change their behavior.

7. Consistently remind them that they are not the center of the universe.

Unfortunately, many adults don’t even know this. But if you teach your kids this simple fact early, it will help them get along. Everything will not always go your way. Sometimes you have to compromise. See #2 again about developing a ‘We mentality.’

8. Model good behavior yourself.

When I teach my communication classes and workshops, I always tell my audience to take a good, long, hard look at themselves. You can’t change what you don’t recognize. So you might want your kids to get along and love each other more, but if you are not showing them how to do it through your own actions, then they will never learn. Children model behavior more than they listen to your words.

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9. Never speak poorly of anyone in the family.

If you’re angry at your spouse, that’s understandable. It happens all the time. But if you go around and say negative things about him or her to your children, then that will teach them that it’s alright to badmouth people. Make sure your words about everyone are positive. Even if you’re pointing out something that needs to be changed, you can say, “I know you can do better.” Never, ever, model bad or critical language in front of your children.

10. Have them buy each other birthday and Christmas presents.

Sure, it makes more work for you to drive them around and pay for the presents. But it tells them that it is important to remember their siblings on special occasions. Christmas is not just about how many presents Santa Claus brings to you. It’s also about giving to loved ones. And so are birthdays.

11. Establish positive family dinner routines.

Having regular family dinners together helps children stay out of trouble as they grow up. It is a time for everyone to talk and communicate. So start a ritual where everyone goes around the table and says something they love and appreciate about other members of the family. That establishes the fact that everyone loves and respects everyone. Eventually, it will become a habit.

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12. Have them say, “I love you,” and hug and encourage each other.

Even if you don’t come from an affectionate family, it’s never too late to start the hugs and kisses, and saying, “I love you.” Saying hello and goodbye with a hug shows that you love and respect another person. And using words of encouragement also adds to the affection that is shown.

13. Remind them that after you’re gone, they will only have each other.

I don’t mean to sound morbid, but it’s true. If you are lucky enough to follow the natural order of things, the parents usually die before the siblings do. And once the parents are gone, they will be the only ones in the family left standing. Remind them that having a sibling or siblings is a precious thing, and that there is no one else in the world who shares the same parents. It’s something that should be cherished.

As I said in the beginning, it’s never too late to start teaching your children to love and care for one another. All it takes is some conscious effort on your part. But it’s worth it.

More by this author

Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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