Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Fostering Healthy Sibling Relationships
Because siblings spend a lot of time together, they know one another very well. Their interactions, whether positive or negative, impact their development. A study was done on sibling relationships to find what factors impact the relationship the most. It was found that family structure, age spacing, gender sibling pairs, socioeconomic status, and household crowding were insignificant in enhancing the relationship. What was significant was an individual child's characteristics and temperament as well as the family environment.
Characteristics and Temperament
Temperament can be a big factor in whether siblings get along or not. In this study, four aspects of temperament were measured: emotionality (anger, fear, upset), activity, sociability, and shyness. The analysis showed that children who are more active and emotionally intense tend to be more conflict-prone with their siblings. They tend to have more negative interactions with them than positive ones. The only other significant finding was that when an older sibling is more social, the relationship they have with their younger siblings tends to be more positive.
In order to analyze family environment, four contextual factors were measured: household organization, marital satisfaction, socioeconomic status, and household crowding. Household organization (regular routines, less background noise, etc.) was the most significant factor that influenced a sibling relationship. This suggests that an organized household creates less stress within a home, which in turn decreases the amount of conflict between siblings.
The only other factor which showed significance in this study was marital satisfaction. When the marriage relationship is high quality, it influences other relationships within the family. According to the authors, this suggests that children learn about positive relationships from their parents because "happily married parents are better able to respond in a manner conducive to more amicable relations between their children". The relationship that parents have with their children also has an influence on how well siblings get along.
In the end, there is no specific answer as to why some siblings engage in more conflict than others. However, we do know that parents have the ability to influence sibling relationships for the better by making their homes places of organization, and seeking to improve spousal relationships.
To read the full article click here: https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-22/edition-6/siblings-friends-or-foes