Brothers' social skills and wellbeing boosted by siblings

Researchers found that positive sibling relationships effected boys more than girls

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Boys who grow up with a sibling are more likely to be sympathetic and less selfish toward others, a study has claimed today.

A good relationship with a brother or sister has been found to increase teenagers’ sense of altruism in a three-year experiment on 308 pairs of siblings.

Although females are said by the researchers to get more out of their relationships in general compared to males, it was discovered that boys’ senses of wellbeing are boosted by sibling support in particular.

“In our study, most relationships were not as important for boys as they were for girls,” said study co-author Laura Padilla-Walker from Brigham Young University in Utah, USA.

“But the sibling relationship was different – they seemed to report relying on sibling affection just as much as girls do. It’s an area where parents and therapists could really help boys.”

Researchers hope their findings will be used to improve the lives of young males for the long-term through parents fostering good relationships between their own children.

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Brigham Young University in Utah, US, where the study was conducted

“Having a sibling you can count on seems to make a difference especially for pro-social behaviour,” said fellow professor Jim Harper.

“Best friends make a contribution, but siblings still matter.”

However, the study also found that boys with a hostile relationship with a sibling were much more likely to have behavioural problems later on in life.

Even though absence of conflict between children can seem harmonious, it does not signify the presence of affection in the family.

Researchers claim that sibling rivalry and fighting is acceptable if parents help them discuss the situation and develop positive interactions.

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