Annoying creep by day, loving boy by night: How can you suddenly feel two so totally opposite feelings about your younger brother? Now that you've entered your teens, is it possible that dealing with siblings annoys you even more than before? And can it also be true that sometimes (late at night when nobody's looking!) your younger brother or sister is the person you most want to snuggle with in front of the TV? Admit it, during these times of dealing with siblings, even watching their juvenile shows on Nickelodeon or the Cartoon Network makes you feel...well, relaxed, less stressed out, like a kid again! So how do you find a way to balance the horrendous fights and the private, family fun that has come to define your new relationship when dealing with siblings? How do you get him to stop embarrassing you in front of your friends? Why does your brother continue to barge into your room without knocking no matter how many times you've screamed for him to stop? What's so special about your stuff anyway that makes it a younger sister magnet? She's always touching your things! And worst of all, how, someone explain how, can your friends think your baby brother is a "hottie!" Ugh! Don't sweat it. You are not alone in dealing with siblings. Everyone —from your parents to your favorite movie stars —can recount tons of times she fought with her brothers or sisters. Sibling rivalry (the phrase given to define all those moments when you wish you were an only child) is a natural part of most family life and can best be kept under control by setting up rules you and your siblings can follow. 1. Dealing with siblings tip: Begin with communication. The best way to get your point across in any situation when dealing with siblings is to explain your feelings in a calm and mature manner. Set up a time to meet with your sibling to discuss some of the problems they may be having. You may want to ask your mom or dad to help by being a neutral listener. This way, the conversation won't end up in a name-calling, fighting match. Be specific and fair. It isn't acceptable, for instance, to expect your brother to stay locked in his room when your friends are over. After all, he is still part of the family and is entitled to walk freely around the house! 2. Dealing with siblings tip: Be gentle. The most important thing for you to understand about dealing with siblings is that they look up to you. Chances are , they are acting up to get your attention. Think about it next time you are dealing with siblings. Now that you have more grown-up interests, have you been spending less and less time around your brother? Remember, a nine-year-old boy cannot easily express his disappointment when you hang out with your friends instead of playing Nintendo with him. Maybe he is acting silly to get your attention. Explain your need for privacy with your friends, but make sure he also understands that you still love him and want to spend some time with him. 3. Dealing with siblings tip: Make a special date. Plan some one-on-one time to be with your younger siblings. Maybe you can help your younger sister straighten her hair, or take your brother shopping for some cool clothes. Younger siblings value the opinions of their older brothers and sisters when it comes to clothes, friends, and music. You are totally cool to them. 4. Dealing with siblings tip: Show mutual respect. You know, you aren't the only one with needs. Your younger siblings will also have some bones to pick with you. Do you hog the computer? Do you play loud music, making it difficult for your brother to concentrate when he is doing his homework? Do you tease him and call him names in front of your friends? The age-old saying applies: "Treat others the way you want to be treated." And that goes double for irritating little sisters! 5. Dealing with siblings tip: Share a project. You may think you have nothing in common, but you do...your parents! Why not work together on a birthday present or anniversary card for your mom, dad, or other family member. You may want to prepare something special for a holiday dinner or a family vacation. 6. Dealing with siblings tip: Give them a break. What's so terrible about letting your brother or sister sit in your room with you and your friends for a while? Underneath their silly behavior, they are just curious about what big kids talk about. If you let your younger siblings hang around a bit, the mystery will disappear, and before you know it, they will be off doing their own thing. The truth is, after a few minutes of boring girl-talk about boys and makeup, your seven-year-old brother will bolt for the soccer fields! 7. Dealing with siblings tip: Remember to hug. The loving relationships you develop now will last a lifetime if you are lucky. Take the time to cuddle and hug. Watch a movie together and share a bowl of popcorn. It may seem like nothing now, but years later you will be so glad you have a brother or sister to lean on. 8. Dealing with siblings tip: Fighting is ok as long as you make up. It is impossible to expect you will never fight when dealing with siblings. And sometimes, your fights will even be unbelievably mean. If you find you completely lose your temper, take some time to cool off. Then find your sibling —he's probably sulking in his room —and work it out. A good rule for life: Never go to sleep angry when dealing with siblings!
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