Friends may come and go but siblings spend a lifetime together. Given the closeness in age of siblings, they are more likely to confide in each other than in parents and to turn to each other as a source of support.
This can be highly therapeutic and prevent feelings of isolation and depression. There is growing evidence to suggest that when sibling relationships are healthy, they can be life-changing in a positive way.
Learn how to navigate social situations
The first situation in which an individual learns to socialize is with a brother or sister. A good relationship with a brother or sister may encourage more empathy and selflessness, whereas an only child may tend to be selfish. Siblings have to learn how to share from an early age, whereas an only child may enter school without ever having had to share toys etc. Siblings have daily practice in how to navigate social situations and understand the minds of others.
Having a brother or sister can help when it comes to connecting with peers at school. A relationship with an opposite-sex sibling can help with navigating how to relate potential romantic partners and the experience in dealing with others can even help in dealing with a marriage relationship as an adult.
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Develop and maintain better mental health
Research shows that regardless of the difference in ages, having a sister or brother can prevent a teenager from feeling guilty, unloved, lonely, fearful, and self-conscious. Close sibling connections are associated with lower levels of loneliness, depression and more self-esteem. Even in infancy, siblings will often turn to older siblings in times of distress.
Research shows that older people with living siblings tend to be happier. Bonding with brothers and sisters isn’t only important while children grow and mature but throughout life. Siblings can offer a lifetime of close friendship and emotional support and ease loneliness in old age.
Learn better emotional control
Many parents worry when siblings are always fighting. Siblings often compete for the attention of their parents as they each try to establish their own identities. However, fighting can help siblings to learn better emotional control. The conflict can teach them how to interact with their peers, friends and coworkers.
Fights give children the opportunity to learn how to say sorry and make up. They refine their social maneuvering skills on each other. Learning how to deal with conflict is a skill that will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives. If siblings manage to get into adulthood without major resentments, they often become the best of friends.
Achieve more academically
Siblings can be positive role models and older siblings generally spend more time with their younger siblings than parents. They can therefore provide guidance, advice and support. Siblings are often aware of each other’s weaknesses and strengths so they can be effective teachers and learners.
An older sibling may help out a younger one with homework or give a younger sibling tips on which classes to take and which teachers are best. The older sibling may provide the younger sibling with contacts and resources.
When sibling relationships are characterized by warmth, respect, love, and consistency, cognitive abilities tend to flourish due to a greater sense of self-worth. The support and warmth of older siblings appears to have a direct influence on academic achievement in adolescents.