Sibling's Bond and Psychology

Sibling’s Bond and Psychology

A sibling is a lens through which you see your childhood. A relationship between siblings can be one of the most long-lasting and enduring relationships of an individual. During childhood, siblings are a primary part of most children’s social worlds. 

Emotional ties between them are strong, either intensely positive or negative. Siblings can be playmates, watchers, support providers, or sources of annoyance and rivalry, demanding parents’ attention.

During childhood, siblings consider each other their biggest enemies and as they grow up they realize that they are their first friends. The friendship that every person has experienced first comes from siblings and cousins.

A sibling is a lens through which you see your childhood. Having a sibling means having a storage of your childhood memories to cherish whenever you want. Siblinghood is all about sharing things, opinions, and feedback, and having constant backup power.

As siblings grow up their relationships go through a developmental transformation and turn out to be more egalitarian and more asymmetrical in terms of power and status. In adulthood, sibling relationships can be affectionate and adoring, gratifying but distant or troubled.

Older siblings possess a greater possibility to influence younger siblings because they spent more time with their siblings than with their parents. The highest level of conflict is reported by children whose siblings are close in age.

A Social Science Researchers, Wyndol Furman & Michael.Duane Buhrmester, Department of Psychology, University of Denver, and Heidi.R.Riggio & J.Dunn, California State University, Los Angeles, found that in sibling gender constellations it was demonstrated that sisters felt most similar and served as close companions to each other.

In a study, it is found that sibling relationships can provide grounds for competition, conflicts, and ambivalence.

Studies have shown that empathy is essential to building healthy and happy relationships with family and friends and doing well at work and for kids in school. Empathy can also be an important factor in teaching kids what bullying is and how not to engage in bullying behaviour. Teaching empathy is thus important in preventing bullying in school.

Sibling relationships could provide a natural environment for children to learn to develop relationships with peers, pay attention to others’ perspectives and feelings, and develop significant skills like anger management, problem-solving, and conflict resolution. Positive sibling relationships were associated with countless benefits related to social, emotional, and health-related development throughout childhood and adolescence.

These benefits include, but are not limited to, higher peer competence, pro-social behaviour, academic engagement, personal achievement, healthy emotional engagement, high level of self-regulation, better adjustment, and empathy.

Positive sibling relationships could also deter depression, juvenile misdeeds, and other adversity. In addition to direct effects, sibling support could also buffer the impact of stressful life events and internalization problems as children with supportive siblings were reported to experience fewer depression symptoms after distressing life events than children in unsupportive sibling relationships.

Studies have shown that even babies experience depression when they are separated from their brothers and sisters. Resulting in the baby’s loss of speech, refusal to eat, withdrawal, and an inability to accept affection.

In adulthood, when they have families of their own, the needs of their families usually take precedence over the relationship with each other, but sibling ties often emerge stronger during this period. Siblings generally want to share their adult struggles and achievements with each other.

The cycle of the sibling bond comes full circle when siblings reach old age, after their parents and spouse may be gone, and their children are raising children of their own. The bond between them often intensifies as they once again become each other’s companions, some live together for the remainder of their lives.

The bonds exist in children raised in well-adjusted families, but it is even stronger for brothers and sisters from dysfunctional families.

With declining fertility and increases in divorce, the number of families with only one child has increased over time, and concerns and stereotypes continue about growing up without siblings. Studies show that the only child’s relationship with parents remains close, closer than those who have siblings. Some studies reported that an only child is more sociable in terms of being more outgoing, engaging more in extracurricular activities, and enjoying higher levels of peer acceptance than those with siblings.

A cousin is a bit of childhood that can never be lost. They are the ones you have exposure to friendship with. In childhood, visiting each other’s homes, holidaying together under one roof or outside, enjoying talking to them more often, and becoming the keeper of your secrets.  Attending family functions together and parties become appealing. Turns into admirers and guides. Separating from them is quite painful for some. 

In adulthood, relationships change, due to studies and priorities of life, you hardly talk to them, rarely on phone calls, and meetings decrease. With time in late adulthood, bonds become positively stronger than you solely remain after your parents. The ties that bind you are deep, and the pride and loyalty you have for your family are fierce. On the contrary, cousins turned into big rivalry if not nurtured well.

Siblings in foster care, through adoption, or in orphanages if separated from their siblings add to their emotional burden. Many children even have trauma because they have experienced broken parents, abuse, or neglect at the hands of their parents or are not even aware of who their parents are. 

A greater number of foster children search for biological brothers and sisters than are searching for their biological parents. Orphans separated from their siblings suffered from increased psychological distress compared with those who remained with their siblings.

Many of you feel so distressed by what happened at home or in the system that you develop behavioral disorders, emotional problems, or other mental health issues that compromise your ability to overcome the past and adjust to the future. Still, others of you feel ashamed of your youth and spend a lifetime hiding from the past or struggling to forget it.

When one child in a family is struggling with emotional or behavioural issues, it affects the whole family. For parents, taking care of a child in distress can become all-consuming, and it can be difficult to make sure siblings are getting what they need, too.

A Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Mandi Silverman, notes that it’s natural to be upset when another child is yelling or having a tantrum these things are upsetting for parents, too. But siblings can also feel very overwhelmed by the behavior, especially if it includes verbal abuse or physical aggression, and it is inflicted on them. Sometimes they can even feel unsafe.

A Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Emanuele, for the other siblings, to mimic the negative behaviors of their brother or sister, especially if they’re younger and don’t understand where the behavior is coming from. Dr. Emanuele recommends being alert for copycat behavior and putting a routine in place where the kids are given praise and attention for other positive behaviors, to counteract what is being learned by example. 

Role of Parents

Do your children have a good sibling relationship?

Parents can play a key role in helping nurture a good sibling relationship and reduce sibling rivalry and conflicts. 

  • Parents need to take care of themselves first-exercise, sleep, food, hard times
  • Do not compare your children
  • Parents should start being concerned if they see their child’s behaviour change drastically.
  • Figure out timely what’s behind sibling’s negative emotions towards each other
  • Emotional needs are to be taught
  • Encourage them to teamwork
  • Teach them to appreciate each other differences
  • Importance of Respect
  • Listening skills should be build
  • Disagreements should be handled respectfully
  • Empathy
  •  Teach the Importance of family bonding
  •  Set a good example yourself
  •  Teach them to say NO if needed

  Role of Siblings 

  • Be the first to reach out – to apologize, in grief or crisis, or when in need
  • Respect each other’s differences
  • Embrace the similarities
  • Celebrate the longest relationship of your life with each other
  • Make time for fun
  • Listen to each other
  • Enjoy the moments being together
  • Give time
  • Cherish the moments you spent together
  • NO itself is a complete sentence, use if required

A sibling bond is one of the close bonds which includes all the feelings and emotions, feeling of safety, love, emotional pinching, teasing, and tussling. Celebrate sibling bonds and cherish the moments.

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