Improving Sibling Behaviors with Creative Play

This blog post is provided by special Guest Blogger Julie Kieras from Happy Strong Home.

Improving Sibling Behaviors with Creative Play Pinnable

So my children DIDN’T end up magically loving to share their toys and spend every second together. Hmm… so strange! I thought I could escape the sibling rivalry phase!

But no, like most baby/preschool sibling sets, once the baby became mobile, squabbles over toys began. My kids have their share of not-so-friendly tug of war with toys, screeching when something isn’t to their liking, or trying to banish each other from their play area.

I had to restore peace and harmony! So I analyzed successful play times to see what was working and what wasn’t.  Here are our favorite creative and cooperative play activities.

Side-by-Side Play. Our fifteen-month-old is at the “parallel play” developmental stage, which means he doesn’t necessarily understand or crave the interactive play of older toddlers and preschoolers. He likes to play near his brother, but not always with him. The boys enjoy playing side-by-side with their classic bead maze. It has enough twists and turns to give each child their “space” of play, while still feeling like they are playing together.

Improving Sibling Behaviors

Cooperative play. Toys like unit building blocks allow the boys to choose to play together or on their own. Sometimes they create their own buildings and towers side by side. Other times, because my nearly four-year-old craves interaction, they work together to create towers the baby can knock down. I love watching them laugh together as they play!

Improving Sibling Behaviors

Taking Turns. Helping the boys learn to take turns is another successful play activity. Both ages can benefit from learning to share a toy back and forth. It could be as simple as rolling a ball to each other, or more interactive like taking turns with a magnetic puzzle toy. Shape puzzles are great for a wide range of ages, and learning to pass the magnetic wand back and forth gives each child something to do without having to wait too long between turns.

Improving Sibling Behaviors

Community Toys. Do you know the best – the very best – strategy I’ve learned for helping my children play well together? Having toys that don’t “belong” to either of them! Toys like a play tunnel keep the boys active on rainy days, engaged for lengths of time, and nobody can say “That’s MY tunnel!” I’m not saying ALL the toys from here on out will be community toys, but I’m moving more towards that direction.

Improving Sibling Behaviors

After studying the boys’ play over a few weeks, I realized: the best toys and activities that keep them happy together are ones that fit a wide age range (about 18 months up to 4-5 years) and develop a sense of community.

A play environment full of shared spaces and objects encourages children to play together instead of developing territories and possessiveness. Our home is the first community my children will experience. Helping them play harmoniously at home teaches them to navigate larger play groups and learning communities in the future!

What cooperative play toys and activities have helped most with sibling behaviors in your family?

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M&D Divider Line 2

Shop the Story

Wooden Standard Unit BlocksWooden Standard Unit Building Blocks
Happy Giddy TunnelHappy Giddy Tunnel
Classic Bead MazeClassic Bead Maze
Magnetic Tow Truck Puzzle Game with ChildMagnetic Tow Truck Puzzle Game



  1. Love these ideas for co-play between siblings, always a challenge for sure. Love Melissa & Doug toys, worth sharing between kiddos! 😉

    • And I love how the M&D toys last and last so they are great hand me down toys. (Not to mention so many are appropriate across a large age-range!

  2. My two youngest are 5 and 9 and love to play together. They normally like to adventure outside.

  3. I only have one child, but we hope to have another, so I appreciate these tips!

  4. My son is an only child. I love seeing your boys play so nicely together. It sounds like you’ve done an amazing job of figuring out which toys are best for their cooperative playtime.

    • Yes, definitely some toys are better suited than others for cooperative play, which is why open-ended toys are best for our family all around since the boys are close in age and always want what the other one has! 🙂

  5. we love love love blocks. Legos and other building bricks are a fabulous cooperative play toy. Play-doh, as well. I think sibling squabbles actually help kids figure out the way the world works to some extent also- negotiating, standing up for yourself.

    • You make a good point, and a lot of the reading I have done about managing the squabbles does point to giving the children time to “work it out” between themselves. Even with these great toys, disagreements still happen, but there’s less sense of “gimme/mine”. 🙂

  6. We’ve been working with our two children on these same things. We seem to get the best play when they can do stuff together, like blocks, coloring, puzzles and arts and crafts.


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