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Recent Study Focuses on Effects of Sibling Aggression

Date: July 9, 2013 Categories: Blog

I was recently watching an episode of a cartoon in which a sister sends her younger brother forward in time “forever” so that she could continue her life in peace and quiet.

This show reminded me of the occasional combativeness I expressed with my younger brother. Who hasn’t wanted to send a sibling forward in time for some uninterrupted relaxation in the present? After hearing about a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics that explored the effects of sibling aggression on mental distress in children and adolescents, I became nervous that my wish for kin time travel might have somehow had a devastating effect on my brother’s mental health.

Although it is common for siblings to fight, there is an increasing interest in the more destructive behaviors. The study was conducted by the University of New Hampshire and focused on thousands of phone interviews with children aged 0-9, and 10-17. It found that “the possible importance of sibling aggression for children’s and adolescents’ mental health should not be dismissed.” Mild physical harm, meanness and psychological harm all had effects such as anxiety, depression or anger.

This is something that is avoidable; parents can teach conflict management to children to avoid mental distress from sibling aggression. Besides teaching safety, offering support and cooperation, siblings can learn to be accountable for their actions, and with all of these factors, respect will be earned. This can minimize sibling aggression, both psychological and physical.

As for my brother, I’ll let him decide if sibling aggression caused any long lasting psychological damage.