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Having siblings is the best part of growing up…

Those of us who work with children may forget how important sibling relationships are to children’s and adolescents’ healthy development. We tend to place more emphasis on parental relationships, which, while extremely important, are only one component of the family system. However, 82% of children live with siblings, and our relationships with our siblings may last our entire lives.

Brothers and sisters are significant for a variety of reasons. First, because they are so close in age, children may be more likely to share information with their siblings that they would not have shared with their parents. These can be typical topics such as friendships, relationships, and school, but can also be more disturbing topics such as abuse, drug use, pregnancy, self-harming behavior, or suicidal thoughts. Second, because children and adolescents are more likely to trust their siblings, they may turn to their siblings for support more readily.

This article is critical because we know that suffering in isolation is one of the most significant risk factors for youth development. The ability of young people to express their feelings to someone – a brother, sister, parent, or friend – can be extremely beneficial therapeutically, preventing a worsening of depressed mood or anxiety. Finally, before trying things out socially, siblings can act as mouthpieces for one another. Healthy sibling relationships appear to promote empathy, prosocial behavior, and academic achievement.

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