More Fun With Sisters and Brothers
More Fun with Sisters and Brothers is a preventive intervention program that teaches young children a set of social and emotional competencies that will help them play and interact with their sisters and brothers in a fun and friendly manner. Over the course of four sessions, children learn a set of prosocial skills including perspective-taking, conflict management, as well as learning to manage the range of emotions and challenging behaviors that often occur in sibling relationships. The skills taught in the program are geared toward 4- to 8-year-olds, and most children in this age group easily learn the basic steps that lead to harmonious sibling interaction. Program instruction is made enjoyable with the use of puppets, videos, and dramatic play that center on sibling issues. Learning is made fun with activity books, take-home bedtime stories, games, and more.
The More Fun With Sisters and Brothers Program was developed by Dr. Laurie Kramer, senior faculty in Human and Community Development and Associate Dean of Academic Programs in the College of ACES. She is the founding Director of the Family Resiliency Center at the University of Illinois.
The More Fun With Sisters and Brothers Program design is based on empirical research findings and is the first formal program for enhancing the relationships of young siblings that has received empirical support. Rather than focusing on what children should not do (e.g., refrain from fighting), the More Fun With Sisters and Brothers Program is proactive and teaches children what to do— how to relate positively to one another.
The More Fun With Sisters and Brothers Program has identified a number of effective methods for encouraging positive interactions in sibling relationships among young children. Skill-building approaches that directly involve children, as well as their parents, are the basis of the program curriculum, which emphasizes:
- Active learning that allows program participants to better identify their own emotions in order to regulate their behavior across the full spectrum of emotionally expressive behavior found in sibling relationships;
- Generalization of skills training to the home environment;
- A comprehensive parent engagement component designed to teach parents to become effective “emotion coaches” who can guide their children through the process of learning to regulate their own emotions and behaviors.
- Family home visits offered to program participants that expressly focus on how children will practice the learned social skills and manage the situations that elicit conflict with their own siblings at home. Children practice program skills with their siblings while receiving coaching and immediate feedback from trained program staff who visit the home.
- Helping children learn how to get along, and have fun, with their sisters and brothers in the early stages of their social and emotional development can lead them to enjoy the potential life-long benefits related to successful relationships with their siblings in early childhood.
The More Fun With Sisters and Brothers Program is a 4-week program offered throughout the year and is free to participants. The program is located at the Family Resiliency Center in Doris Kelley Christopher Hall on the University of Illinois Urbana campus.
- Laurie Kramer, Ph.D., Associate Dean, Academic Programs, College of ACES and Professor, Human and Community Development
Kramer, L., & Radey, C. (1997). Improving sibling relationships among young children: A social skills training model. Family Relations, 46, 237-246.
Kramer, L. (2004). Experimental interventions in sibling relations. In R. D. Conger, F. O. Lorenz, & K. A. S. Wickrama (Eds.). Continuity and change in family relations: Theory, methods, and empirical findings (pp. 345-380). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Kennedy, D. K., & Kramer, L. (2008). Improving emotion regulation and sibling relationship quality: The More Fun with Sisters and Brothers Program. Family Relations, 57, 567-578.
Kramer, L. (in press). The essential ingredients of successful sibling relationships: An emerging framework for advancing theory and practice. Child Development Perspectives.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture
Laurie Kramer, PhD
In the News
- NurtureShock, (2009). Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. Chapter 6. http://www.nurtureshock.com/
- New York Times. In Sisters, Love and an Urge to Break her Neck. (Tara-Parker-Pope, March 2008)
Good Morning America The New Science of Siblings. http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Parenting/story?id=8449624
- U.S. News & World Report. 7 Ways Your Siblings May Have Shaped You. http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/living-well-usn/2009/07/31/7-ways-your-siblings-may-have-shaped-you.html
- Today Show. July 5, 2006
- The Takeaway (WNYC radio)
- Time Magazine. How your Siblings Make You Who You Are (Jeffrey Kluger, July 10, 2006). Cover story.
- New York Times. The Year in Ideas: Favoring One Kid is Fine. (Susan Burton, December 2002) http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/15/magazine/the-year-in-ideas-favoring-one-kid-is-fine.html?scp=4&sq=laurie%20kramer&st=cse
- New York Times. Vital Signs: Behavior, When Siblings Fight, Parents Shrug (Alisha Berger, February 1999)
- “In U of I Study, Kids Learn to Handle Emotional Responses to Siblings,” ACES News, 2-23-2009, http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/news/stories/news4677.html
- “U of I Study: Parents, Sibs See Imbalances in Parents’ Attention Differently,” ACES News, 5-16-2007, http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/news/stories/news4013.html
- "Mom's favoritism can affect kids, sibling rivalry as adults", USA Today, 5-4-2010, http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-05-04-favorites04_CV_N.htm
Parents, educators, and practitioners benefit from having a set of tools that have been empirically derived and scientifically validated to improve the quality of children’s sibling relationships. More importantly, the More Fun with Sisters and Brothers Program, and its predecessor, the Fun with Sisters and Brothers Program for 4- to 8- year old children with an infant or toddler sibling, enables children to competently engage in prosocial sibling-directed behaviors and manage conflict and other interpersonal challenges that commonly arise in families, without full reliance on parental intervention.