How to help siblings get along better

Sibling relationships allow children to try out new social and emotional behavior, particularly when it comes to conflict.

(CNN)Sibling rivalry is often taken as an unexamined fact of family life -- as much a part of parenting as potty training or bedtime stories.

But experts say parents don't have to put up with the bickering and the fights: There are strategies and techniques to help brothers and sisters get along better, strengthening a relationship that will support them for life and make for a more harmonious home.
Given the enforced proximity that is still a reality for many as a Covid-19 winter approaches, a game plan to improve sibling relationships could be a lifesaver for struggling parents tired of snarled insults and hurled objects.
    "It's been part of our culture, at least in the US, to think that siblings fight. That there's going to be lots of times they don't get along. That's what they do," said Laurie Kramer, a professor of applied psychology at Northeastern University in Boston.
    "When social lives are so restricted, families really see the value of encouraging their kids to be friends, in some respects, to be companions and playmates."
    Unlike many of our relationships, we don't choose our siblings, and this makes for a unique dynamic. Brothers and sisters can withstand far more negativity and behavior that simply wouldn't fly among friends, Kramer said.
    That's one reason why sibling interactions are developmentally so important. These relationships allow children to try out new social and emotional behavior, particularly when it come