Siblings teach each other valuable life lessons.

Importance of Siblings on Development

by Angeliki Coconi

Siblings play a huge part in each other's lives. Parents of multiple tots know the heart-warming sight of seeing their little ones playing together harmoniously, or holding one another in a loving embrace. But the strong, potentially lifelong bond that siblings often share carries more importance than feelings of, “aw, that’s so sweet.” For all children, brothers and sisters provide each other with a first friendship; a buddy influence that beats all buddy influences. As far as learning goes, siblings help in a load of life skills that don’t come easy – and that grown-ups can’t teach alone.

1. The Importance of Siblings

A 2008 study on sibling relationships by researchers Dr. Mark Morman and Paige Herrick reports that sibling relationships are known to affect children in a social and emotional way more than any other relationship, including parental relationships. Just think about how much time your kids spend together, especially in the early days. Siblings rely on each other as playmates and as shelter from the less-familiar world. They see the world from the same point of view, they confide in each other and they turn to each other in times of trouble. Sometimes, a strong bond between your kids can even make you feel a little left out as parent!

2. Shaping Each Other

A child’s personality traits, interests and strong points come about through a need not to be competitive. If one sibling starts painting, the other is more likely to pick up something contrasting – like a sport. Basically, two siblings will purposefully spread out various qualities between them so they don’t need to compete. In this way, they shape their own personalities through each other. You’ll find that, much of the time, although there is always a strong connection between siblings, there also tends to be the mentality of “I’m different from my brother, don’t compare us!” Makes sense, huh?

3. Learning How to be Intimate

Siblings also learn how to be intimate and emotional together. Mothers will always play a big part in creating a sense of intimacy, but siblings come second. Brothers and sisters become the people who are let in on everything. A sibling relationship involves the deepest secrets and the most embarrassing details (not always working in favor of the siblings!) Sometimes, these relationships almost mimic the relationships children inevitably form outside the family later on in life -- with the obvious differences. You should feel good when you hear "you're the best brother in the world" or "we're gonna be friends forever." Encourage your little ones to be best buddies -- they're onto a good thing.

4. Take a Step Back

The influence of siblings is often overlooked and overshadowed by what role the parents play. For parents, a big part of the parenting process is actually all about making sure sibling relationships stay strong. So keep this in mind when you feel like you have too much weight on your shoulders -- it can serve as quite a breather -- since much of what's needed in raising a kid comes from your other kids! Sometimes, it's best to simply let them teach each other -- let your children lead the way... If you walk in on your kids playing together, or watching a film together, sometimes it's better to leave them to it. If you can resist interfering some of the time, no matter how cute they look, it's beneficial.

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