New Study Shows Sibling Relationships Help Boys’ Development

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Brigham Young University family life professor, Dr. Laura Padilla-Walker, spent more than three years gathering data on the benefits of sibling relationships. Padilla-Walker surveyed 308 sets of adolescent siblings to determine how a sibling relationship affects prosocial behavior, problem behavior, depression and anxiety not only in girls, but in boys as well.

Previously, boys have reported that sibling relationships are less important to them, whereas girls report that they are very important. But this new study reveals that the relationship is equally important to both genders.

According to KSL, Padilla-Walker also researched parent-child relationships and friendships so that she could compare them with the results of sibling relationships. She found that the sibling relationship is different than any other relationship a child will have and is of more importance. KSL quotes Padilla-Walker saying:

In boys and girls, sibling affection was promoting sympathy, it was promoting pro-social behavior, it was protecting against problem behaviors. And boys really need that. 

Padilla-Walker explains that the friendships boys have can help promote sympathy and pro-social behavior as well, but not near as much as a sibling relationship. The extent of the benefits from friendships for boys are nowhere near that of girls’ friendships. Padilla-Walker explains the significance of this relationship saying:

Just the sheer number of interactions with another person, especially fighting, helps you to learn how to take another person’s perspective, and care about another person, and comfort another person.

Just as positive sibling relationships have proved to be effective for both boys and girls, negative sibling relationships have the power to be damaging.

For more information on Padilla-Walker’s research, read her entry in the Journal of Research on Adolescence.