Sibling survival tips

NICK EICHER, HOST: Now that much of the country is under orders to shelter in place, families are spending lots of time together. And even the best relationships can start to feel tetchy after a while. 

WORLD reporter Anna Johansen talked to one family for some advice—from kids, for kids—on how to handle all that extra togetherness.

KOCH KIDS: I’m Koryn and I’m 18. Kaleb and I’m 16. I’m Kyra and I’m 15. I’m Ben and I’m 13.

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: When state and federal officials banned gatherings of more than 10 people, the Koch family was automatically in violation.

KOCH KIDS: Claire and I’m 11. Madeline and I’m 9. Daniel and I’m 8. Mickey and I’m 6. I, I Sarah and I’m, I’m 4.

There are 10 Koch kids. The oldest is 18; the youngest is 1. And yes…they’re homeschooled. The advent of social distancing wasn’t a drastic change for them. But it has still taken some getting used to.

KIDS: I think it’s really bad because we don’t get to like go outside and play baseball and practices. Yeah. So that’s like pretty boring.

The siblings like each other, but they don’t always get along.

KYRA KOCH: I understand the feeling of like siblings getting on nerves and stuff because I think that happens to everybody. 

This is Kyra. She’s 15.

KYRA: But you’d be really surprised at how big a difference like a, just a smile or like a kind gesture will do…they light up and they get so happy when they actually feel like you’re paying attention to them.

Kyra says one way to get to know your siblings is to read a book out loud to them. She read the Harry Potter series to her little sister Maddie. She hasn’t been as close with Maddie as some of her other siblings, but through reading to her, their relationship deepened. 

16-year-old Kaleb says a lot of people he knows aren’t on good terms with their families.

KALEB KOCH: I’ve been thinking about this and for people that are stuck with their family now, this is the opportunity to grab, to start being with the people and start creating relationships. 

The younger kids chime in with their own advice.

KIDS: They just, they have to learn to live with it, which is a good trait, like as being, it can really depend. Like sometimes it’s really good to have, to have to learn to love the people around you and the people that are your family. 

The Kochs also know that alone time is important, but you have to do it right.

Koryn is the oldest. She says if you’re intentional about spending time with younger siblings, then they’ll probably be OK when you need some space later.

KORYN: A lot of the times when they’re bugging you is when they’re bored, when you haven’t been with them for a while. So if you do take the time to invest, they’re not going to bug you all the time because they’ll be happy with what you already did. They understand usually that you’re going to need a little bit of space at some point.

The kids also agree that the message you send is important. A lot of people might be tempted to have an “I’m stuck with you until the quarantine is over,” kind of mindset. But that’s not beneficial for anybody. Instead, be intentional about getting to know the family members around you. As Kyra points out…

KYRA: Your siblings are going to be the people in later life who you’re closest to and who always have your back.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen in Rolling Meadows, Illinois.

(Photo/Koch family)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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