1. Avoid comparisons. Nothing causes more short- and long-term damage to the sibling dynamic than comparing academic or extracurricular achievements. Give honest, specific feedback to each of your children about their individual strengths and the skills each needs to strive for, but don't compare accomplishments to motivate.
2. Try having them share a room. Some children divide their space with tape or argue about things like turning out lights, but these common conflicts may ultimately teach cooperation and compromise. Some of the best bonding can happen during nighttime talks.
3. Intervene when they argue. There's a big difference between fighting and problem-solving. Let go of the belief that it's better for your children to work it out, especially if behavior frequently escalates and gets physical. Instead, teach them cooperation and conflict-resolution skills like taking turns.
4. Introduce meaningful apologies. Rather than forcing an angry child to say he's sorry — which will only produce an insincere apology — let him cool down first. Then talk to him about how to make amends for hurting a person's feelings by doing good deeds like putting away his sister's toys or writing his brother a nice note.
5. Predict, prevent, and prepare. If your children fight every time they start their homework or play a game, review your expectations for their behavior with them ahead of time and encourage them to use their conflict-resolution skills.