The very important trait that kids learn from having brothers and sisters
Kids learn a lot from their siblings.
How to share and how to say sorry are just two of them. But, it turns out that siblings teach each other a very important emotional trait... empathy.
Four universities in Canada conducted the study to find that kids who have siblings that are kind, warm, and supportive are more empathic than children whose brothers and sisters lack those characteristics.
The researchers also found that no matter what age, whether they're older or younger than each other, siblings will positively influence the others' emotional responses.
Sheri Madigan, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Calgary, who co-authored the study, said: “Our findings emphasise the importance of considering how all members of the family, not just parents and older siblings, contribute to children’s development.
“The influence of younger siblings has been found during adolescence, but our study indicates that this process may begin much earlier than previously thought.”
The researchers studied various families, of all sizes, ages and ethnicities, and videotaped them during different scenarios.
For example, if a researcher pretended to hurt themselves, they looked at how the kids reacted, their behavioural responses as well as their facial expressions.
They also looked at who the child looked to for help, i.e. which sibling.
“Although it’s assumed that older siblings and parents are the primary socialising influences on younger siblings’ development (but not vice versa), we found that both younger and older siblings positively contributed to each other’s empathy over time,” said Marc Jambon of the University of Toronto.
“These findings stayed the same, even after taking into consideration each child’s earlier levels of empathy and factors that siblings in a family share - such as parenting practices or the family’s socioeconomic status - that could explain similarities between them.”
Have you noticed this with your kids? Let us know!