If you are on the fence about having a second child, we’ve got some news for you: research shows that having a sibling is actually very healthy and might even help shape your child later on in life. For those who have grown up with multiple brothers and sisters, they can attest to just how challenging, memorable, and loving these one-of-a-kind relationships with your siblings can be.
According to Fatherly, having a sibling certainly does affect your personality. As a matter of fact, it’s called the Sibling Effect, which means having your brothers and sisters around is just as important in a child’s development as much as parenting goes.
Plus, science agrees. While there are plenty of positive and negative effects in a sibling relationship, it has a surprising impact on the human psyche. Multiple studies have shown that younger siblings teach empathy to their older brothers and sisters. What’s more, siblings who are close with one another tend to live parallel lives: either they both graduate from college or they both become college drop outs.
“Cognitively, emotionally, socially—there are just a lot of influences that siblings have on one another,” says Laurie Kramer, a clinical psychologist at Northeastern University (via Fatherly).
In addition, research shows that only children can sometimes be developmentally stunted, although studies say that the disadvantages are often short-lived. Now, as far as teaching your children how to get along (especially when the going gets rough), here are a few things you can keep in mind while teaching them the do’s and don’ts of sibling relationships.
First and foremost, have your children spend time with one another, have them practice good listening skills, and try to teach them how to handle conflicts with maturity. Also, you can put emphasis on the older children how important it is to be a good role model for their younger brothers or sisters.
So in other words, do what you’ve got to do moms and dads in order for your child to have a fighting partner-in-crime in life (even if the fighting they do now drives you up the wall). But with that being said, giving your child a sister or a brother to grow up with is perhaps the best gift you can give them, even if it comes with a few noogies along the way.