Sibling Relationship

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Sibling Relationships: Development of Social Skills


This paper examines the role siblings play in each other’s development of social skills as well as in peer interaction. The relationship between siblings can be marked with conflict and rivalry, but in other ways can be one of the closest relationships a person can have throughout their lives. Some sibling relationships can last longer than ties to parents, spouses, and children. Siblings help each other define who they are in their gender and as individuals, and they can also help provide emotional support when needed. Social competence with peers is one area that will be discussed in the paper. Several bodies of research now indicate that the quality of a sibling relationship is related to several signs of children’s social development and psychological well-being. It does not matter whether the relationship between siblings is nurturing, supportive, emotionally or physically close, aggressive or riddled with conflict, it still seems to have important implications for the children involved. One of the most notable cases in this regard is the connection between the sibling relationship quality and a child’s social proficiency, or in their ability to handle and keep relationships with their peers.

Herrera & Dunn, for example, reported that young children using positive conflict resolution strategies, like mitigating a conflict or reconciling, were more likely to use similar conflict resolution strategies with a friend several years later(Herrera & Dunn 1997). Mendelson, Aboud, & Lanthier studied kindergarten students and found that a child’s companionship and identification with an older sibling was related to the younger sibling’s popularity with peers (Mendelson, Aboud & Lanthier, 1994). Older adolescents with warm and supportive sibling relationships during childhood reported higher self-esteem levels, greater perceived proficiency in their abilities and social...
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