Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

Siblings play formative, influential role as 'agents of socialization'

January 18, 2010
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - What we learn from our siblings when we grow up has - for better or for worse - a considerable influence on our social and emotional development as adults, according to an expert in sibling, parent-child and peer relationships at the University of Illinois.

Laurie Kramer, a professor of applied family studies in the department of human and community development at Illinois, says that although a parent's influence on a child's development shouldn't be underestimated, neither should a sibling's.

"What we learn from our parents may overlap quite a bit with what we learn from our siblings, but there may be some areas in which they differ significantly," Kramer said.

Parents are better at teaching the social niceties of more formal settings - how to act in public, how not to embarrass oneself at the dinner table, for example. But siblings are better role models of the more informal behaviors - how to act at school or on the street, or, most important, how to act cool around friends - that constitute the bulk of a child's everyday experiences.

"Siblings are closer to the social environments that children find themselves in during the majority of their day, which is why it's important not to overlook the contributions that they make on who we end up being," Kramer said.

Kramer, who along with Katherine J. Conger, of the University of California at Davis, co-edited a volume on this topic for a recent issue of the journal New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, says a clearer understanding of how siblings function as "agents of socialization" will help answer critical societal questions such as why some children pursue antisocial behavior.

"We know that having a positive relationship with siblings is related to a whole host of better outcomes for teenagers and adults," Kramer said. "A lot of current research looks at how children learn undesirable behaviors like smoking, drinking and other delinquent acts, from exposure to an older sibling's antisocial behaviors as well as that of their sibling's friends. For example, a female teen is at higher risk for getting pregnant if her older sister was a teenage mother. Developing a better understanding of sibling influences can help us design effective strategies for protecting younger children in families."

According to Kramer, in order to maximize an older sibling's positive influence, one of the most important things parents can do is to help foster a supportive relationship between the siblings from the very beginning.

"We know from longitudinal studies that if kids start off their relationship with a sibling on a positive note, it's more likely to continue positively over time," she said.

Variables such as gender and age difference don't make much of a difference between siblings.
"It's not all that important whether you're spaced closer together or farther apart, or if you have a brother or a sister," Kramer said. "What's really much more important are the social behaviors that children learn in their early years that they can use to develop a positive relationship with a sibling. That's why it's important for parents to encourage siblings to be engaged with one another and develop a relationship where there is mutual respect, cooperation and the ability to manage problems."

Kramer said children who grow up as an only child are not necessarily less socially competent than children who grow up with siblings, but they are more likely to have developed social skills through friends as opposed to brothers and sisters.

"Growing up just with parents is a different environment for young people," she said. "Parents of only children might want to think about how they can help their child have social experiences with other children, whether that's through childcare, preschool or play dates."

Do single children establish surrogate siblings with cousins and friends?

"They may be encouraged by parents to develop deeper relationships, and that's a good thing because it provides them an opportunity to develop some of these social competencies that they probably won't acquire if they're limited to interacting with their parents and teachers," Kramer said.

Parents who have children who are spaced closely together in age may not see much of a need to have children over to the house once a week because their children are already having significant social experiences within the family unit, Kramer said.

But children whose siblings are spaced further apart in age are most likely to have different sets of friends and different social experiences because they may be in distinct school contexts or involved in unique activities. "It's possible that siblings who are spaced further apart are very connected within the home, but their social experiences outside the family may be pretty different," Kramer said.

And, Kramer notes, having Wally Cleaver for an older brother doesn't necessarily mean the younger sibling will turn out like Wally - they may end up like Beaver.

"We know that not all younger children turn out like their older siblings," Kramer said. "There are many cases where younger siblings work very hard to carve out their own unique path and be different from their brothers and sisters, a process researchers refer to as 'de-identification.'

They may choose a different path in which to excel or make their mark to base their own identity on. That child may choose to focus on sports, the arts or being the social one. It relieves them from the pressure to be seen or compared to their elder sibling, particularly if they're afraid that they won't be able to measure up.

"So they figure out who they are, what they believe in and what's important to them, in reaction to how they perceive their siblings."

Kramer cautions that while we don't know all of the implications of sibling influence, "we do know that growing up in a family where there is another child makes it a very different environment socially, cognitively and emotionally," Kramer said.

"Children learn things through growing up with other children in the house, just as they learn things growing up in a more adult-oriented environment if they're a single child. We need to understand that better so that we can form a more realistic understanding of child and family development."

Funding for this research was provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

University of Illinois


Related Siblings Current Events and Siblings News Articles


Genetic test would help 'cut bowel cancer spread'
Screening families of patients with bowel cancer for a genetic condition would cut their risk of developing bowel, womb, and ovarian cancers, new research has found.

In stickleback fish, dads influence offspring behavior and gene expression
Researchers report that some stickleback fish fathers can have long-term effects on the behavior of their offspring: The most attentive fish dads cause their offspring to behave in a way that makes them less susceptible to predators.

Longitudinal report shows challenging reality of ageing with an intellectual disability
A new report launched today by the Intellectual Disability Supplement to TILDA (The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing) conducted by academics from the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, has highlighted the serious, complex and unique health and social challenges facing Ireland's intellectual disability population.

Note to young men: fat doesn't pay
Men who are already obese as teenagers could grow up to earn up to 18 percent less than their peers of normal weight.

Environment plays bigger role than genetics in food allergic disease eosinophilic esophagitis
Researchers have found that environment has a much stronger role than genetics in eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), a severe, often painful food allergy that renders children unable to eat a wide variety of foods.

Cancer cells adapt energy needs to spread illness to other organs
Want to understand why cancer cells metastasize? Think of Sparta.

Why parents shouldn't play favorites
Before you revive the debate about which sibling in your family is the favorite, you'll want to know what the latest research shows.

UT Southwestern expert co-chairs national team to develop first comprehensive guidelines for management of sickle cell disease
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has released the first comprehensive, evidence-based guidelines for management of sickle cell disease from birth to end of life, based on recommendations developed by a nationwide team of experts co-chaired by a UT Southwestern Medical Center hematologist.

Intervention in 6-month-olds with autism eliminates symptoms, developmental delay
Treatment at the earliest age when symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) appear - sometimes in infants as young as 6 months old - significantly reduces symptoms so that, by age 3, most who received the therapy had neither ASD nor developmental delay, a UC Davis MIND Institute research study has found.

Press Release: Social Support: Carnegie Mellon's Brooke Feeney Details How To Thrive Through Close Relationships
Close and caring relationships are undeniably linked to health and well-being for all ages.
More Siblings Current Events and Siblings News Articles

Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too

Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too
by Adele Faber (Author), Elaine Mazlish (Author)


The #1 New York Times best-selling guide to reducing hostility ?and generating goodwill between siblings. Already best-selling authors with How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish turned their minds to the battle of the siblings. Parents themselves, they were determined to figure out how to help their children get along. The result was Siblings Without Rivalry. This wise, groundbreaking book gives parents the practical tools they need to cope with conflict, encourage cooperation, reduce competition, and make it possible for children to experience the joys of their special relationship. With humor and understanding—much gained from raising their own children—Faber and Mazlish explain how and when to intervene in fights, provide...

Siblings: You're Stuck with Each Other, So Stick Together (Laugh & Learn)

Siblings: You're Stuck with Each Other, So Stick Together (Laugh & Learn)
by James J. Crist Ph.D. (Author), Elizabeth Verdick (Author)


Brothers and sisters: they can make great friends, and it’s nice to have someone who’ll love you no matter what. But kids know siblings can be a real drag, too. Full-color illustrations and humorous, kidfriendly text teach kids how to cope with problems of fairness, jealousy, conflict, tattling, privacy, and other things that can make having siblings so difficult. Kids learn how to cope with a new baby in the home and how to handle special situations such as siblings with special needs, step-siblings, and adopted siblings. Unlike most other books on the topic, Siblings doesn’t dwell on sibling rivalry; it focuses on building positive relationships. After all, siblings can grow up to be the best of friends.



Keep the Siblings, Lose the Rivalry

Keep the Siblings, Lose the Rivalry
by Todd Cartmell (Author)


For most of us, dreams of family harmony and cooperation often give way to the reality of squabbling and fighting between siblings. In Keep the Siblings, Lose the Rivalry, Dr. Todd Cartmell explodes the myth that parents must sit passively by while sibling conflict runs rampant. Based on solid biblical principles and sibling research, Cartmell provides a ten-step plan that will help you enrich your family soil, plant the seeds of sibling relational skills, and provide an environment that will encourage respectful sibling relationships. Cartmell includes fifteen "ready-to-use" Family Time Discussion Guides and creates powerful object lessons using common household objects such as stinky socks, post-it notes, tennis balls, and tasty treats. With role-plays, Scripture references, and...

The Big Sibling Book: Baby's First Year According to ME

The Big Sibling Book: Baby's First Year According to ME
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (Author)


BIG NEWS—your family is growing, and it's time to get your firstborn psyched about becoming a big sibling! Organized chronologically, The Big Sibling Book is designed to help prepare your child for the new arrival with interviews, sticker activities, and pages for recording Baby's first. The end result is a precious two-in-one keepsake that captures Baby's first year and the unique perspective of the new big kid in the family.

For big kids ages 2-6 (with a little help from Mom or Dad).

Siblings

Siblings
by Nick Kelsh (Author), Anna Quindlen (Author)


Almost every life is profoundly touched--and complicated--by a sibling relationship. In intimate childhood portraits of brothers and sisters, Siblings joins Nick Kelsh's exquisite black-and-white photography--free of all sentimentality--to Anna Quindlen's wry and tender essays. Here are forgotten moments, naked emotions and conflicting urges, to be treasured in the rediscovery. Infant toes curl against each other, brothers fight tooth and nail, a toddler views a new baby with horror and later touches it with love. The raw reality of their interactions, transcending the children's own loveliness, is mirrored in nuances wittily pinpointed by the text. Siblings captures and reveals an undying dynamic at its very source--for siblings now grown, and for their parents and grandparents.

My New Baby

My New Baby
by Rachel Fuller (Author), Rachel Fuller (Illustrator)


There is so much to find out when a baby is born! What does it smell like, and when will it walk? When does it sleep, and what does it like to eat? A new addition to any family is exciting, but the experience can alsobe worrying and confusing for siblings. Coping with the new situations and emotions that arise can be very challenging. This series of four board books deals with the anticipation of waiting for the new baby, the excitement of the arrival itself, and the beginnings of the special relationship that develops between siblings. The simple conversational text and lively illustrations are carefully designed to encourage further dialogue between reader and child.

The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us

The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us
by Jeffrey Kluger (Author)


A provocative and surprising exploration of the longest sustained relationships we have in life—those we have with our siblings.

Nobody affects us as deeply as our brothers and sisters. Our siblings are our collaborators and co-conspirators, our role models and cautionary tales. They teach us how to resolve conflicts and how not to, how to conduct friendships and when to walk away. Our siblings are the only people we know who truly qualify as partners for life.

In this perceptive and groundbreaking book, Jeffrey Kluger explores the complex world of siblings in equal parts science, psychology, sociology, and memoir. Based on cutting-edge research, he examines birth order, twins, genetic encoding of behavioral traits, emotional disorders and their effects on sibling...

Why Can't We Get Along: Healing Adult Sibling Relationships

Why Can't We Get Along: Healing Adult Sibling Relationships
by Peter Goldenthal (Author)


Praise for Peter Goldenthal s previous books:

"[Dr. Goldenthal s] techniques...are presented with insight and clarity. This is a unique and valuable book." --William B. Carey, M.D., Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

"Peter Goldenthal gives us new insights.... This is a must-read book." --Myrna Shure, Ph.D., author of Raising a Thinking Child

Hasn t it gone on long enough the rivalry, the jealousy, the pent-up anger, and the grudges rooted in the past? In this book, renowned author and family psychologist Peter Goldenthal offers proven prescriptions for brothers and sisters who want to break through old, destructive patterns and create a richer, more loving, and more rewarding relationship with their adult...

When Baby Becomes Big Sibling: Thriving Through The Transitions That Come When Adding Another Baby To Your Family

When Baby Becomes Big Sibling: Thriving Through The Transitions That Come When Adding Another Baby To Your Family
by Paula Rollo (Author)


A fun and relatable book covering many of the challenges confronting a mother preparing to have another baby. Real-life ideas for helping the toddler know what to expect, tips for handling regression in the older child, and logistics for life with more than one baby. Get ready for a light-hearted and funny book that shares stories from the author's transition into a family of four with her own delightfully rambunctious toddler. A must-read for the expectant mama or the recent mother of more than one baby!

Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends

Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends
by Sarah Mally (Author), Harold Mally (Author), Stephen Mally (Author)


Brothers and sisters are among the most important people in life. The emphasis of this book is not merely "getting along" but being best friends.

© 2014 BrightSurf.com