Oh, if only we had a vial of fairy dust to sprinkle on our children's breakfast cereal to invoke marvelous moods, happy faces and good manners.
With these simple tips, however, those things may not be too far out of reach.
1. Eliminate competition and promote cooperation between siblings
Realize that each child is unique with different talents, abilities, strengths and shortcomings; comparing them to each other can cause resentment and problems, according to Dr. Avidan Milevsky, author of "Sibling Relationships in Childhood and Adolescence: Predictors and Outcomes." Parents need to take on the roles of coaches, not referees.
2. Go to each other's sporting events, concerts and recitals
And then go out for a treat. A family is the ultimate team with emotional and physical bonds that transcend seasons and include benefits that can last forever. Celebrate each other's successes. You might even commemorate National Siblings Day on April 10th in the U.S.
3. Teach your children to value the person and be loyal to the relationship
Siblings can be life-long friends. Show your children through your actions how to respond positively to one another and to enjoy one another's company while they are in each other's daily life now; that may not always be the case. You may lose track of friends, but you will always know where your brothers and sisters are. To give ideas of how to create sibling loyalty, read stories and watch movies that show strong connections.
4. Teach them the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you
Even better, try the Platinum Rule: Do unto others as they would have done unto them; in other words, give them what they would want, not what you want to give them.
5. Model kind and generous behaviors
An article by Emily Esfahani Smith discussed a study on long-term happiness and relationships by the Gottman Institue. Although it was about marriage, the findings apply to other relationships as well. Long-term relationships and happiness are achieved with mutual kindness and generosity.
6. Be grateful
Show your children how to appreciate and value their experiences, relationships and health, and even challenges and hardships, which can promote growth and help them to develop empathy. Having a grateful attitude helps cut down an entitlement mentality and jealousy, and creates the possibility of an environment of helpful service.
7. Teach forgiveness
We all mess up and fall short from time to time. Let's learn to forgive and help each other recover from the dings and bruises we all receive as we experience life's lessons.
8. Set goals of family unity and expect excellence
There is no harm in reaching for the stars.
These tips will help your family achieve greater happiness and build skills that will help your children succeed in their future marriages and in life. After all, they'll only be home for 157,680 hours.