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Managing Sibling Harmony The Right Way

Amanda Houle

Managing Sibling Harmony The Right Way

Featured in Mama Goose

February 26, 2018 Leave a Comment

Author: Amanda Houle, Parenting Strategist

| Sibling harmony is manageable with the right tools

Sibling harmony can be really tough to manage for many families. With the right mindset, tools, and strategies to set your children up for success you can succeed. Modeling for them, teaching children kindness, and the importance of getting along with your sibling is the recipe for a harmonious home with less fighting.

On a daily basis sibling harmony can make or break a parent’s sanity. Parents constantly ask how can I make it so they get along? First of all, it’s important to note that you have to let them learn how to work through their problems on their own without stepping in every single time! This approach teaches children to be independent, learn how to use their voice to advocate for themselves, and communicate more effectively their feelings. I suggest having a conversation with your children about the importance of having a close relationship with their siblings as they will be the only ones around to share childhood memories with especially when their parents are no longer around.

Adopting the mindset that you can’t fix or make children get along the easier it is. You can instill boundaries, expectations, and house rules. For example, talking disrespectfully or hitting is not an option. Model for children to use their words to communicate how they feel in replace of inappropriate behavior. “ I am upset that you won’t share right now.”

You are not alone when it comes to expecting sibling harmony. I’m here to tell you it is possible! Do you find yourself always reprimanding your youngest or is it your oldest for instigating fights? Are you in the same room often when they are fighting? Children often will retaliate if their sibling says or does something they do not like and often hear from parents that they don’t know exactly what happened as they weren’t there. It is important to learn the full story and hear from each child.

 Tips/Tricks to encourage Sibling Harmony: (Age appropriate)

  • Speak with each child to learn their version of the story (if you don’t it isn’t a teaching moment as next time 1 child could feel targeted and get mad at their sibling)
  • NO taking sides so they each validated
  • Have each child speak 1 thing that they feel they did wrong to take ownership for their actions
  • Ask your children what they could try and do better next time (ex; tell my brother I don’t like it when he does x or y.
  • Give reminders when they are playing nicely
  • Be specific when it comes to setting rules in stating exactly what it is you DO want not want you don’t want
  • Give an opportunity for each child to choose what they want to do so they each get time to do something they enjoy (only if this is an option)
  • Let your children fight their own battles

Author: Amanda Houle, Parenting Strategist, Parenting With A Punch

Amanda hails from Brooklyn, NY back to the Greater Boston area. She has a Dual Masters degree in Special and General Elementary Education with a specialization in Early Childhood and an undergraduate degree in Psychology. Her niche is working with families with children ages 2-6 years old. Amanda gets so much joy from teaching families how to learn to enjoy their parenting journey. Amanda loves yoga, coffee, and is training for her first half-marathon!

Winter Fun

Amanda Houle

The northeast during the winter months can make you feel stuck and forced to stay inside especially if you are not a snowbird like me! I get it, believe me. There is such a thing as seasonal affective disorder typically caused by less exposure to vitamin D and of course even more so when you live in a location that gets tons and tons of snow lasting up to 4-5 months every winter. No wonder. Bring children into the mix and it’s a completely different ball game.


Do you feel stuck when you have little ones running you exhausted into the ground during the winter months feeling like you have nothing to do? Guess what! I am here to tell you it is completely OK for your children to be bored. These are the moments they are able to tap into their creativity energy so allow them. I see and hear often from parents that they feel guilty for not always wanting to play with their children so what do they do? You pretty much give them an I-pad, a  computer, a tablet, maybe even your cell phones, and they wind up being on for hours. I understand you need a break!


Here is the good news. Children do not need you to play with them 24/7. Actually, 20 minutes is usually plenty before they are no longer interested in playing with you anyways so you don’t need to bother feeling guilty or throwing an electronic device at them. I invite you to commit a minimum of 20 minutes a day and maybe some evenings you can’t give 20 minutes and that’s OK. These long winter days stuck in the house there is so may things you can do.


Create a visual checklist broken down into 30-60 minute increments and include mommy/daddy and me time in there with different categories catered to your family’s interests. For example: art time, (stick to crayons if you don’t want to take out paint or scissors and have them draw a snowman or decorate a winter theme. Include music for a dance party. These are usually the best and if you make this as 1 of the first activities it may tire them out quick! I have dance parties as often as I can with children and it works. Take it from experience. J Maybe not for an hour unless of course your trying to fit in exercise for yourself! Make a fort and here’s the trick- if your worried about a mess then I suggest you have ground rules before you begin letting the children know that if they make a mess, they are required to clean up after themselves. They learn to clean up in preschool and daycare so if they do it there they can be taught at home. It is that simple. Incorporate mommy and daddy free time as well and communicate that it’s time to play independently. I highly suggest setting timers on your phone as you can lose track of time very easily especially if your kiddos have trouble listening. Quiet time is also a great suggestion as they do need to learn to quiet their body’s and mind as well. If it works for you to not have a schedule then GREAT. Some other tips: Free play, (anything they “want”) sensory activities such as kinetic sand, playdoh, shaving cream in the sink, tubby time, beans in a bucket. Sensory activities is huge especially on a day they may not be as active as it stimulates the nervous system and promotes connectivity to feeling calm and relaxed.


Now, for all my snowbirds and will do my best to encourage all the non-wintery individuals as well, get your butt outside even in the winter months. Yes, especially in the snowstorms! I spent at least 25 minutes outside shoveling, yes but also spent some time running around with my dog as he loves the snow, making snow angels, and chasing him in the yard. Do you know how freeing that feels? Children need to feel that feeling well, quite honesty daily and for some a few times a day so I invite you to get outside, build a snowman, make snow angels, and frolic. Once you get dressed you are half way there and once outside you will thank yourself for seeing those bright eyed smiles in the wintery mix.

Cheers to a snowy and happy 2018 Winter!

Amanda MS Ed., Ed

Founder of Parenting With a Punch 

New Years 2018

Amanda Houle

I love New Years Eve and enjoy relaxing on New Years Day taking the time to be reflect. I strongly feel that we can make changes at any time and the New Year does not have to be the end all be all to solidify a resolution. It is fun to look back at the year you had, the good, the bad, and be able to find gratitude for all the lessons. This is when you can truly reflect and take ownership for all that you would like to achieve. Whether it be lose weight, get a new job, move up the ladder, spend more time with friends, have more sex, 1 thing is certain when YOU focus on yourself everything else typically falls into place. Yes- this means if your yelling more than talking with your spouse and at your children, learning to recognize your triggers will support you in creating the change. Is communication a struggle in your relationships? I have invested in so many ventures this past year from joining B-School an online business program which allowed me to up-level in my business, to improve my closest relationships because I said YES to growth. Change is hard. It isn't supposed to be easy but if we looked at it through the lens of a place of introspection then we would have a lot more healthier and happier families. That is my biggest goal to contribute to raising confident, successful, happy, independent, strong children. 

Let today be the day you decide to take control of the present moment and prepare your family for a thriving marriage and healthy relationships with your children where they want to share and come to you without fear of being judged years down the line and now! 

Make the investment and your world will forever be changed. 

With love,

Amanda Founder of Parenting with a Punch and Host of Parenting with a Punch show


Holiday Traditions and New Beginnings

Amanda Houle

Family Traditions and New Beginnings

This time of year continues to represent new beginnings and forces us to ask ourselves- what will your new years resolution be? New Years has been an old tradition for decades and I’m here to tell you especially during the holiday season when your forced to be around family that you may not typically care to see that at any time in your life YOU can decide for yourself right now I am going to create change. I want a new beginning! You do not have to wait until New Years day to set your new intention in motion.


Holiday traditions

The holiday season is upon is. Parents scramble around shopping last minute and trying to plan family parties and celebrations together all the while forgetting to breathe and enjoy the moment. This joyous season only comes once a year. Take a step back and remember what your traditions were as a child. If you celebrate Christmas did you leave out cookies and carrots for both Santa and the reindeer? Maybe an advent calendar? These are some of my most memorable moments growing up. Or if you celebrate Hanukah, did you light the candles daily together as a family? Did you open one gift daily or all on the 8th day? Maybe you didn’t have a family tradition. It is never too late to begin one, leave memories for your children and to pass down generations.

My wish for you this holiday season is to breathe, connect, and enjoy it with family. I challenge you to the minute you walk into your family’s home collect all cell phonesincluding the children and have conversations. Ask questions. Also spend time with both family and friends


“It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.”

-Mother Teresa


It doesn’t have to be pure chaos and fighting with family if you choose not to engage. I strongly suggest setting those boundaries beforehand. It is normal to have different vales than your extended family. To avoid less fighting have that 5-10 minute conversation prior and I promise you will be glad you did. What are your family values? If they are not “set in stone” have a family meeting 1 evening during dinner and write them out together. Have you ever asked yourself your non-negotiables? For both yourself and for your partner/children?


Year 2018

 What is your intention for the new year? Do you solidify what you would like to implement now or do you wait until January 1st? Taking care of yourself before you take care of others is pertinent for your overall mental and emotional health which is why I suggest start NOW! New year symbolizes new beginnings but who is to say any day of the year could be a new beginning.


 Behavior tips

For holiday parties and starting new routines:

1)      Have FUN! Especially when behaviors arise such as crying or throwing a tantrum. Redirect and let it go.

2)      Follow through with your word ALWAYS so people know what to expect especially your children!

3)      Go around the table during meal time at your holiday function and give a compliment to each and every family member sitting at the table, have fun and everyone take turns!

4)      Set expectations prior to the party. Simple and concrete directions go a long way. Have your children repeat them to you to ensure they understand.

5)      Create a social story explaining what will happen at the party and who will be there for children that may struggle with transitions and experience anxiety.