There’s no doubt that family time is important. But if you have more than one child, giving each sibling individual attention is just as crucial.

Doing so can go a long way towards fostering sibling cooperation, as well as build your child’s self-esteem:

“Chances are, after Johnny has had you so completely to himself, he will be more generously disposed toward his siblings,” says Adele Faber, Long Island, N.Y.-based coauthor of Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too. “But even more important, he will have a greater sense of his own value.”

When giving siblings individual attention, aim to spend 10 to 15 minutes at the same time each day doing something that both you and your child enjoy, suggests says Fran Walfish, PsyD, a child and family psychotherapist in Beverly Hills, Calif., and author of The Self-Aware Parent: Resolving Conflict and Building a Better Bond with Your Child.

“It can be sitting together in the kitchen while your toddler scoops her own ice cream cone and you sit with your arm around her, gazing adoringly into her eyes while you talk about the cold, sweet, strawberry flavor, or you can dig for worms in the backyard with him,” she notes.

“The activity doesn’t matter as much as the bonding that occurs when it’s just the two of you. Just make you sure you do not allow this time to become a threesome; each child must learn to tolerate and bear the discomfort of you spending time with his or her sibling.”

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