I asked this question on the MAA facebook page and received a few responses., “How do you encourage sibling bonding?”:
* Don’t force it.
*It happens on its own. You will be surprised on how fast.
*We have found that if most of the work is done BEFORE the new addition ever arrives, then it is a much easier transition into bonding. Talking openly about the life circumstances your child is coming from (as appropriate) that could lead to behaviors the other kids aren’t used to is huge. I prepared my kids to be bitten, kicked, yelled at, have their things taken (our son was 9 and from a different country)…when he ended up being quiet and gentle, we were all pleasantly surprised, but prepared for the occasional meltdown that has happened since. My children also prayed with us daily for him and we had pictures of him that they could view during the whole 2+ year process. We kept them informed of the latest developments in the case and shared updated pictures and videos. Once home, they PLAYED, PLAYED, PLAYED! Minimal electronics. They showed him where things were and routines as much as we did. We have a large family – he is child #6. He just sort of “fell right in with the pack!” Our ages range from 8-14 (2 bio, 4 adopted)
*When my parents adopted my sister, a huge part of getting used to her arrival was becoming familiar with the culture and country she was coming from — learning introductory Russian, learning what the orphanage would be like, and talking with other adoptive families. It ended up being a lot less difficult to get used to the idea of her as my sister than I think most people would expect.
*…My youngest sister, oh my that was the longest wait ever!!! She wouldn’t let me near her, my mom, nor step dad. I went over to the house a lot, tried playing etc and wouldn’t have it. I was about . A month to a month and a half and she gave me a hug while at lunch with my mom and that was it….she was all over me.
I have four children and two of my incredible little circus came to me through adoption. Sibling bonding, more so encouraging my children to respect, love, enjoy, and nurture one another is a priority in my home., Like some of the responses above, I too agree that it can not be forced and often does not happen overnight.
The moment we introduced two year old LingLing to her two year old brother Finn there were tears. He was so excited to meet her and he reached out for her to offer a hug and a gift. I remember being jet lagged from China and overwhelmed with joy to finally be united again with my children that stayed home., He reached for her with such love in his eyes and she…..SCREAMED., And then he… SCREAMED., There I sat with my newly adopted, daughter, (screaming) and my son (screaming) and I did not know which way to go or who to comfort first or how to help. So, I cried for a moment and then pulled it together calling on backup to help embrace (Aka: Daddy) to help., Hugs and kisses were given. LingLing was soothed. We did our best to explain her feelings to Finn and help him not take her “rejection” personally.
LingLing and Finn are the best of buddies now., They are one anothers confidant, playmate, giggle partners, snugglebug, noisemakers, trouble buddy….the list goes on and so does the LOVE.
Yes, it takes time because bonding takes time. In fact, bonding is TIME., Bonding happens day after day as we intertwine our lives together. This happens for siblings in the everyday routine of your home and family life.
Here are a few thoughts I had on encouraging bonding between siblings~
*Put down the iPhone and play a game with your children. Your presence in the game will teach them how to interact.
*Smile. Smile. Smile. The home environment that you create will encourage (or discourage) bonding. A home with parents that smile at the children will help to grow children that smile at one another.
*Remind each family members how important they are to the working of the family. I told my son today as I handed him the baby, “I am so thankful you are a loving big brother. I can see how much the baby trusts you.” …..he beamed and you better believe he loved all over his baby brother after that.
*If you fill the cup of each child they will better be able to fill up one another.
*Always allow your children to speak to you about their needs, concerns, and frustrations however, do not allow siblings to speak nasty to one another. Speaking respectfully (or trying!) helps to promote that every person is of value.
*Take their pictures together, a lot.
*Listen close and start using fun nicknames that they come up with for one another.
*Reinforce the unity of the family….”We are the Smiths”….”Come here Jones’ kids”….etc..
*Laugh together. Laughter supports bonding.
*Show your children how to help, serve,, and support one another.
And remember that bonding will happen. Strangers will become siblings who can become the best of friends! In our home we are not perfect. The kids spat,, break each others legos, and can have sharp tongues in the heat of a moment. But, we teach daily through our WORDS and ACTIONS that we are all gifts to one another. Yes, yes we will clash (probably dialy), but we strive towards cherishing.