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Experiencing healthy relationships with family and peers at a young age produces positive benefits for children throughout their lives. Helping your children form these healthy relationships is a primary role for parents. Positive relationships are built on positive behaviors; a child must learn to be generous, cooperative, to feel for others, and express his/her own feelings in an appropriate, socially acceptable manner (e.g., no kicking, no biting).
Raising socially competent children—children who are generous, kind, and who feel for others and feel good about themselves—goes a long way in helping children form strong, lasting relationships, which is a primary protective factor. Children first learn these qualities from their caregivers, who must be counted upon to model the behavior they want to see in their children.
However, younger children will also imitate the behavior they see in their big brother or big sister. This is especially true if the age difference between them is 6 years or more. Inevitably, the younger child will look upon the older child as another parent. Help children learn to take responsibility within the family and learn to be dependable and trustworthy when helping with younger siblings.
Begin early to help your children be responsible for one another and see being responsible as a joy and a privilege, rather than as an unpleasant job.
Educator Activity: Buddy Up!
Quiz for Parents: Older Child, Younger Child
"Getting Along Together: Developing Social Competence in Young Children" from PBS Home Programs: give parents tools to help children form satisfying relationships.
"Sibling Rivalry” from KidsHealth: discusses why kids fight and what you can do to help them get along."
From Gerber: Start Healthy, Stay Healthy:
Updated on 5/1/2012