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Sibling Rivalry 'Good For Children' Study Suggests

Sibling Rivalry 'Good For Children' Study Suggests

The days of parents worried about the effects of sibling rivalry as set to be over as it's now been reported that a little bit of familial tension is actually good for kids.

A five-year study has found sibling rivalry can boost mental and emotional development, increase maturity and enhance social skills in children.

Dr Claire Hughes, whose new book Social Understanding and Social Lives covers sibling rivalry, told the Guardian: "The more combative siblings are, and the more they argue and the older child puts the younger one down, the more they are learning complex lessons about communication and the subtleties of language."

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This means that parents of bickering little ones needn't be too concerned, even if the arguments get worse as the children get older.

The youngsters can also increase their verbal skills and - once parents' fury has subsided and tears have dried - learn to resolve their differences without one child submitting to the other.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

The project was a five-year-long research into siblings at the University of Cambridge's Centre for Family Research - it looked into children's cognitive and social development between the ages of two and six.

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Dr Hughes said: ""The more the children upset each other, the more they learn about regulating their emotions and how they can affect the emotions of others - the more they point-score, the more it can motivate them to achieve."

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However, with all positives, comes the negatives too - she added: "Of course, if sibling rivalry gets out of hand, it can be very negative. Persistent violence is a strong predictor that the aggressive child will bully their peers.

"I don't want to be the woman who says it's good if your children hate each other, but parents might take some sort of comfort, when their children are fighting, in the discovery that they are learning valuable social skills and intelligence which they will take outside the home and apply to other children."

Judy Dunn, professor of development psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry, added although "it may not feel like it, sibling rivalry can be constructive, preparing them for important relationships when they are older."

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The author of the book My Dearest Enemy, My Dangerous Friend: Making and Breaking Sibling Bonds, psychologist Dorothy Rowe, disagrees with Dr Hughes' ideas on sibling rivalry.

Credit: 20th Century Fox
Credit: 20th Century Fox

She believes that parents should intervene in disagreements to show siblings that there is a better way to deal with arguments - she says parents should avoid taking sides with their children and try to remain calm.

There have been some incredibly infamous family feuds - from Liam and Noel Gallagher to fictional siblings, Bart and Lisa Simpson. But is it good for kids or not?

Featured Image Credit: PA / 20th Century Fox

Topics: UK News, Interesting

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Rachael Grealish

Rachael is a NCTJ qualified journalist from West Cumbria, with a passion for news, features and journalism. Outside of work Rachael loves plenty of coffee, running and reading.