“Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring, quite often the hard way.” – Pamela Dugdale

Tips for Siblings

Growing up in a family with eight kids, including myself was fun, annoying, difficult, sad and wonderful at times. Whenever I tell people how many siblings I have, I can see that typical “Oh My God” expression rise up in their faces with some type of goofy statement like; “Isn’t eight enough?” “Eight is a lot!” “Eight is crazy!”   Yes, it was crazy! And I would not trade those experiences for the world. People always asked me how we got along. Overall, pretty good, especially in our younger days. When I think back on how I survived my siblings, these are my top ten tips or suggestions that came to mind, plus few extra tips too.

(click image above to view more sibling photos)

1. How to Get What You Want: Bribery or Blackmail.
Bribery, blackmail or holding something for ransom is a great way to get things accomplished, keeping you siblings from bugging you, keeping your siblings from telling on you or even get them to do the things you don’t want to do. Somehow, my older siblings were very successful in doing this to me since I was the baby of the bunch.
A.    Offer to do chores – catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
B.    Give them money or cool things.
C.    Persuade: “If you do this, I will do that or if you leave me alone now, I will play with you later.”
D.    Get secrets about them to keep in your back pocket when needed.
E.    Threaten: “If you tell…. Then I will tell.”
F.    Steal their favorite item and don’t return it until they do what you want them to do.
G.    If you get blamed for something they did, just stay calm. Later, let them believe you took or put something out of their room or you saw them do some thing bad. Examples:  “I hope you sleep well tonight.” Let them think you put something in their bed even though you didn’t.  “I saw what you did, I’m going to tell,” even though you didn’t see them do anything.  It’s all about making them think you did something or know something. It will drive them crazy!

2.  Don’t Be Their Guinea Pig!
Older siblings always want to use you for experimental purposes, to pick on you or tease and play a joke on you. Don’t go for it!
A.    If they ever say… “This wont hurt,” “I’ll catch you,” “I wont tell,” or “Mom and Dad wont care,” then RUN!! Run as fast as you can because you are about to be their victim.
B.    Always have a planned escape route.
C.    Never play “Follow the Leader” because they will lead you into doing something you shouldn’t do.
D.    Avoid stairs, couches, beds and toilets – they tend to encourage you to jump off them.  Not good!
E.    If they tell you that the tree is not high or you can swing higher, don’t listen, you will fall and they will laugh!
F.    If they tell you that the “Water Torturing Game” is cool; they are lying!
G.    Never trust your sibling if they are telling you to do something and they don’t do it themselves.

3. How to Get the Food!
For me, food was a serious issues especially living with six brothers.  Majority of the time I thought I was going to starve to death. Here are things to do if your siblings eat all the food before you or if there is a particular piece of cake or cookie you want.
A.    Play the Germ Game (this can be applied at any age): If you want a particular piece of food, lick your finger and touch the food, or blow on the food. Most siblings wont touch the food after that. Drives them crazy.
B.    Be the first person to the table.
C.    Sit close to mom or dad, they get served first, which means you will be served second.
D.    Learn to eat fast. Warning: Stomachache will follow.
E.    Whisper to your siblings you heard the food was gross. Maybe they wont eat it.

4.  Be flexible like Gumby!
Life is full of changes.  People change, situations change, and feelings change. Sometimes you will be pulled in all different directions (especially with lots of siblings), but if you are flexible and bend with it, it will be easier to bounce back. Always remember two things:
A. If you change your behavior, they will change their response to you.
B. Relax! (As my brother annoyingly said all the time) Just relax and not take life so seriously. Makes it easier to be flexible.

5.  Follow the 777 Rule.
When your sibling upsets you or you get in a fight, ask yourself:
A.    Does it matter in 7 days for now?
B.    Does it matter in 7 months from now?
C.    Does it matter in 7 years for now?
If not, then let it go! Put things in perspective. Sometimes we have to learn to choose our battles wisely.  If not, it could affect your relationships for the rest of your life. If it does matter in 7 months or years from now then there are bigger     issues that need to be recognized and resolved.

6.  Listen! If You Hear Your Sibling…
A. Screaming – It is best to check on them immediately, something maybe wrong.
B. Being too quiet or giggling – they are probably up to no good.
C. Making noise in your room – go check on them.
D. Crying – Support them and be nice.
E. Laughing – Join in.
F. Stomping around and yelling (being mad) – Ignore them.
G. Doing a bad thing – Jump in and stop them or tell your Mom and Dad.
H. Upset or need to talk – Listen to them

On the more serious side…

7.  Life is Unfair!
A. Deal with it because it will never be fair.
B. Most of the time, parents have a favorite – Accept it or try to be the favorite kid. I vote for being the favorite!
C. Don’t blame your siblings for your issues. Take responsibility.
D. Know one is perfect; don’t expect your siblings or parents to be perfect.
E. Sometimes siblings’ change as they grow, you need to understand they will never go back to who they once were.
F. Let go of your past; it is done. Live in the now and make a new and better day.
G. Just because he or she is your sibling doesn’t mean you have to like them. Sometimes you have to let them go.
H. Bad things can happen and siblings can die. Give yourself time to grieve. Allow your  pain but also allow healing. Don’t stop living life. Live life for them.

8.  Fighting: They Know How to Push Your Buttons!
Fighting can lead to difficult or serious situations and cause problems within a family, especially as we grow older. As we age, we become our own person, have our own opinions/thoughts and have our own values/belief system. There is no right way to solve  a serious fight and sometimes you just can’t get along with your sibling. Here are some tips to help manage the relationship the best way you can.
A.    Take a deep breath and count to 10 before speaking.
B.    They know how to push your buttons, be prepared and aware.
C.    Walk away or ignore.
D.    Make a joke – Breaks up the stressful moment. It stops the fight and catches them off guard.
E.    Choose your battles wisely.
F.    Don’t let them get under you skin and stress you out. Keep control of your own actions.
G.    Life is too short to be pulled into family drama.
H.    Always use “I” when confronting issues. Don’t use “you.”
I.    Stay out of other siblings’ fights; don’t try to be the referee or fix it, they can turn on you.

Difficult Siblings:
A.    Don’t be their stepping-stone. Don’t allow them to walk all over you and control you.
B.    They will always think they are the victim. Don’t play into it.
C.    Remember, it’s not about you; it’s about their own personal issues.
D.    It’s okay to say no. Don’t feel guilty.
E.    You are not their parent – you don’t have to solve their problems.
F.    Don’t answer any emails or calls from them if you are emotionally upset.
G.    Avoid them – take a break. Do your own thing.

Real Difficult Siblings:
A.    Create boundaries.
B.    It’s okay not to like them. We don’t choose our families, we choose our friends. Find family support through friends.
C.    Keep a healthy distance or move away.
D.    Accept who they are and move on.
E.    Try to take the high road.
F.    Don’t try to win their love and acceptance. Love yourself enough to know you don’t need it.
G.    If they are aggressive or dominating – don’t be defensive. It makes them win and then you fall into their trap. Be assertive and put the spot light back on them and give a neutral question back to them.
For example: They call you stupid (a bad name) – yelling or being irrational.
You state: “If you treat me badly, I will not talk to you now. Let me know when you will stop this behavior and then I WILL let you know if I will talk to you,” then walk away.

10. Forgiveness.
Forgiveness is the hardest thing to do. When we have been emotionally or physically hurt, it is really hard to forgive the person that caused that pain. We need to ask ourselves, do we allow the hurt and pain to continue to affect our life? Or do we find a way to let it go so we can live a healthy and loving life? Forgiveness is the best thing you can do for yourself and what helps us to spiritually heal.
A.    Forgiveness is a gift you can give yourself. It’s for you, not them!
B.    It releases you and the unwanted stress.
C.    You can forgive and still hold them accountable.
D.    Live your own life – don’t let them control yours.
E.    It’s not worth holding onto the pain.
F.    Recognizing changing the unchangeable is impossible.
G.    Betrayal from a sibling can be the most painful act. It can change your relationship forever. You have to step back and ask yourself why did they do it? Then take time to figure out how to move forward that will help you live a healthy life with them in or out of it.
H.    When you forgive, you don’t change the past but you change your future.

1. Laugh at yourself, laugh at your siblings and laugh with your siblings.

2.  Don’t let your siblings pick you friends. Their friends will tell on you. Develop you own strengths and your own identity. Choose friends based off that.

3. Do the things that make you happy, not what your siblings or parents expect you to do.

4. Tolerance can go a long way when applied to siblings.

5. Suck up to the baby of the family! If you parents see you loving and spoiling the baby they will tend to watch the other siblings more closely and they will get more in trouble than you.

6.  Don’t sweat the small, stupid and annoying things!

7. If a sibling is cutting you down, agree with them. It surprised them and takes the fun out of it.

8. During a fight and your sibling is acting like a child. Envision them as an innocent child full of hurt. It puts the fight into another perspective.

9. Don’t compete. Let your sibling enjoy his or her own success.

10. Does it matter if you are right?

11. Never tease a sibling that is holding a sharp object in their hand.

12. Don’t ever let you brothers borrow your dolls because they will be tortured.

13. Beware of nose burgers. For some reason siblings like to pick their nose and wipe it on you.

14. Don’t pull their finger or let them bend over in front of you. You will be gasping for air because they think it’s funny to fart.

15. Siblings like to exploit your biggest fears out of fun. So don’t tell them you are scared of the dark or monsters. They will lock you in the closet or hold the door shut while your standing in the dark.

16. If you shared a room with your sister or brother, the chances of you having a line (real or invisible) separating the two sides are pretty high. If one of you crossed the line… someone will get pinched or hit.

17. If you siblings keep telling you that you are adopted, ignore them. They are trying to tease and annoy you.

18. Siblings love to embarrass you in front of your friends by saying made up stories about you or making gross statements.  Have a few comments in your back pocket ready to state back.

19. If you sibling babysits you, plan on being punished for doing nothing.

20. If you have a cool older brother or sister, that is plus because it helps you get into parties.

21. Siblings always have a way of having a love/hate relationship.

22. If you borrow your sister’s makeup or clothes, make sure to put it back EXACTLY they way it was before so they don’t know.

23. Always stand up or protect your siblings even when they do stupid stuff.

24. Get use to being called your sibling’s name. Parents never get it right.

25. Plan on always getting the hand-me-downs clothes from your siblings.

26. Be thankful for your experiences and family.

27. Be aware – Legos, building blocks, sticks and balls could be used as weapons.

28. If sibling has a different political view, be patient. We all know they are wrong.

29. After Mom and Dad leaves the house and you break all the rules. Make sure to make a pact not to tell on each other.

30. Remember everyone still has a child within him or her.

31. If you sleep in a tent or you are having a slumber party, brothers will always try to scare you. Be prepared.

32. It will always be annoying when the older brother or sister claims they get the front seat of the car or the remote to the TV because of their age.  All you can do is beat them to the car and lock the door or hide the remote.

33. If your sibling warns you that your boyfriend or girlfriend is no good. Listen! They are protecting you even if you don’t want to listen. You will regret it later.

34. If a girl or boy (you don’t like) asks for your sibling’s phone number, give them the wrong number.

35. Brothers can smell! They burp, fart, and have sweaty body odor due to sports (especially hockey). Have an extra can of air freshener around or avoid them.

36. Siblings can be your best friend or your enemy.

37. Board games can cause fights  - think before playing. Some siblings don’t like to loose.

38. We all want to be loved and accepted. Tell your siblings you love them. Life can change very quickly and you may loose that opportunity.

39. Never hide your journal under you bed, in your drawer or closet.  Those are obvious places to find it.  Good place – make a folder pocket and tape it behind your dresser then put your journal in there.

40. Take lots of pictures.  You will be grateful when you get older and want to look back on the memories.