Cooking can teach kids teamwork and the ability to follow directions.

Activities to Help Kids Get Along With Siblings

by Samantha Kemp

Every parent has heard their fair share of whining and tattle tailing. Put these annoying behaviors to rest by encouraging siblings to work together as a team towards a joint goal or prize. Creative play, activities that encourage cooperation, and lessons that teach patience and teamwork can help transform your household into a more peaceful environment.

1. Fun in Play

Children learn to cooperate with each other by engaging in physical activities. Have your toddlers and preschoolers play games like treasure hunts. Write down secret items and place the items in a hat or box. The children dig through the hat or box to find the secret items. The first child to find the item gets a small token. Another game that relies on the cooperation of children is “Don’t Drop the Egg," where each child has an egg in a spoon and must cross the yard and hand the egg to his sibling via spoon-to-spoon transfers. When your kids play this game against other children, they learn to work together to complete the goal. Kids can also pass a ball back and forth in a version of "Hot Potato." The kids select a topic and name an item or concept in that topic and then pass the ball to the next sibling. This activity teaches cooperation and communication. Another enjoyable physical activity is to have siblings complete an obstacle course while they are tied together. The siblings must work together to get over hurdles of abandoned bottles, water holes made out of an old swimming pool, water balloons and mud tosses. This activity gets the siblings to cooperate if they don’t want to end up wet and muddy.

2. The Gifting Sibs

Have siblings work together to create gifts to give to family or friends for presents by making bookmarks out of recycled products. Cereal boxes and old paint chip sample cards serve as excellent bookmarks. Punch a hole at the top of the bookmark, string a ribbon through and tie the ribbon to complete the bookmark. Siblings could also work on a painted T-shirt together, perfect for a family gift. Have the children paint separate designs on a T-shirt. Let the paint dry thoroughly, and then have the siblings work on the next painted areas together. An old coffee container works as a piggy bank. Have the siblings create a piggy bank for each other, using paint or glued-on construction paper bearing the children’s names for personalization.

3. Award Time

Good behavior charts will help kids behave and help them to encourage their siblings to behave, too. Create a chart that shows behaviors that you want to see your kids do, like help clean up, communicate together and work together. Use pictures to help your kids understand your expectations. Add stickers for each time that they accomplish these behaviors and give them a small token of achievement as an incentive for continued good behavior when they fill up their charts. Have siblings write thank-you notes to each other for positive notable behavior. Help kids create a picture journal in which they add pictures for activities they want to do, movies they want to see and games they want to play. Children learn to work together by sharing ideas. What better way to help kids work together than to come up with activities as a team!

4. Cooking Up a Storm

Young kids love cooking and learn other important skills, like following directions, in the process. Let youngsters measure ingredients, dump them in and stir. Cupcake decorating and pizza making are perfect for young children. Kids also love getting squishy with the ingredients and will laugh during the process, making those affectionate energies flow through the kitchen.

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