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7 Science-Backed Reasons a Sibling Makes Your Child Happier and Healthier
  • New parents caring for an infant cannot even imagine adding another baby into the mix. But here’s something to keep in mind if you’re planning to have more than one child: having siblings creates lifelong benefits for your children — mentally, physically, and emotionally.

    7 ways a sibling makes you a better person

    1. You learn empathy when you have a sibling.

    A recent study published in the journal Child Development found that siblings affect each other’s development of empathy. “Popular wisdom suggests that the influencer is the older sibling, assuming they are more knowledgeable and experienced. But our research shows that it works both ways, both younger and older siblings can be influencers or role models,” says the study’s lead author, Sheri Madigan, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Calgary, in an interview with Romper.

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    2. You learn to be selfless.

    Because siblings learn to be more empathic, they also tend to show concern and rely on one another. A 2014 study where researchers examined the relationship between siblings in more than 300 families found that having a quality relationship with a brother or sister may promote selflessness in teens, most notably, in boys.

    “In our study, most relationships were not as important for boys as they were for girls,” said Laura Padilla-Walker, the study’s co-author and a parenting expert from Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life. “But the sibling relationship was different — they seemed to report relying on sibling affection just as much as girls do.”


    3. Siblings improve our mental health.

    A study published in the Journal of Family Psychology found that having a sister makes children 10 to 14 years old feel less lonely, unloved, guilty, self-conscious, and fearful. Sisters were also more protective of each other.

    Having a loving relationship with your sibling, whether a brother or a sister, inspires good deeds and charitable attitudes, even more than loving parents do. According to the research, the relationship between sibling affection and good deeds “was twice as strong” as that between parenting and good deeds.

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    4.  You become happier when you have a brother or sister.

    Another study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, found that sibling support was also associated with a reduced risk for developing depression and with higher self-esteem and life satisfaction.

    Maintaining a tight relationship with your siblings can also lead to happiness later in life. Another study found that older people with living siblings have a higher sense of morale — keeping in constant communication with their brothers and sisters as adults can boost their psychological well-being.

    5. Kuya, ate or bunso can keep us healthy and fit.

    At two to four years old, becoming a big brother or big sister could lower a child’s risk of being obese, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics. These kids were found to have a healthier body mass index (BMI), compared to solo kids of the same age, who were three times more likely to be obese during their elementary years.

    Family and friends influence our healthy habits and help us stay active, according to a separate study. Brothers and sister who remain active have stronger bonds, too!

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    6. Siblings may make us smarter.

    A study published in the journal Science found that first-borns who have siblings, on average, have higher IQ than solo children. And according to a different study, a wider gap between siblings may also motivate the eldest to want to achieve more in life and increases the chances of them achieving higher levels of qualifications.

    7. Siblings also help us live longer.

    Research published in the journal PLoS Medicine discovered that strong social ties with siblings may help you live longer. According to the study, people who are lacking in social connections die about 7.5 years earlier than those with powerful bonds with friends and family. This might be because caring about our family inspires us to take better care of ourselves, according to Time. It may also be because it is them who supports us when we’re sick or feeling stressed.

    Having a sibling is definitely rewarding, but it doesn’t mean that the relationship between brothers and sisters would always be smooth sailing. Sibling fights will happen, but even then, they are still learning from each other. These enable them to learn how to make up and regain control of their emotions, according to Dr. Padilla-Walker, which are essential skills they will need in adulthood.

    “The absence of conflict does not mean the presence of affection,” said Dr. Padilla-Walker. “It’s ok if siblings fight but help them get through that and have other positive interactions.”

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