Do Siblings Help or Hinder Children’s Social Development?
Identity is the essence of every person, the essential thing in him/her, what distinguishes the human species from all other biological species. It is known that a person becomes a person in the process of socialization, as a result of the inclusion of the individual in social relations. Socialization is carried out by assimilating the individual social experience and reproducing it in their activities. One of the main links in the socialization of the individual is the family as the primary unit of society. Moreover, it is the siblings who contribute to the overall social development.
It is clear that the ability to communicate is an essential skill for the child. As he/she grows up, it becomes necessary for a person to succeed in society, to be realized and self-actualized as a person. Siblings can be construed as the best simulator for training social skills, moral support in stressful situations, and a mirror for a better understanding of themselves. The presence of brothers and sisters has a significant impact on the child, both positive and negative. The point to find out what do they more, hinder or help the overall child`s social development.
Specialists in the family economy, comparing the achievements of children from the same family, found out the same level of success regarding education and earnings in only half of couples, and these couples give not the best indicators for both parameters. In other pairs between the two children, there is an evident inequality: only one child (and often none) achieves success (Taumoepeau, Mele, and Elaine Reese). Relations with brothers and sisters play a crucial role in children`s formation and development (Ciciora, Phil). They shape self-awareness, priorities, and influence one or another important choice that people have to do. If a person had another brother or sister, he/she would be a different person.
To start with, when John (as an example) was only four years old, he was already riding a two-wheeled bike, but he did not just ride, he did tricks and jumps. The family and neighbors continually noted how talented the boy was. John’s brother, Ben, was six years old. While the brother was rolling, Ben sat on the porch and read books. He did not even try to ride a bicycle. There was no point for this. His attempts against the backdrop of John would seem awkward; he would only make himself ridiculous.
Now John and Ben have grown up. It is entirely predictable that John devoted many years of the sport, and the social status of athletes is very high both in school and college. John grew up friendly and confident and works on Wall Street now. Ben also rotated among the children, high achievers, and got used to an entirely different social culture and successfully teaches at the university now.
The environment of children from the same family is the same as the genes. They live in the same house, go to the same school, inherit the same family traditions. Nevertheless, all the same, they grow different. The question arises why and what factors influence on such a result.
First, children try to differentiate as much as possible from their brothers and sisters, especially if the age difference is small. Secondly, it is empirically proven that parents treat their children not at all alike, although they try. For each child, there is their attitude, unique. That is why, according to this, parents invest different resources in different children (both emotional and more pragmatic) (Sang, Samantha A., and Jackie A. Nelson). Thirdly, children from the same family use different strategies concerning resource allocation. According to the research, they choose different niches for themselves, so that parents invest more in them and there is no direct competition. The older (especially the girls) are usually obedient and academic; the younger ones are more prone to risk. Fourth, parents differently assess these niches. For example, they can encourage the child’s interest in sports, but not art. Narrowing the range of niches, parents provoke direct competition between children and limit the chances of both to achieve success in the same field. The children of those who allow diversification are more likely to succeed in different areas chosen by them. Fifthly, the environment in which the family lives also contributes to the development or suppression of the child’s success in a particular sphere. Chances that progress will be achieved not by one but by several children are the most important for well-to-do, well-educated families with good connections (Sang, Samantha A., and Jackie A. Nelson). Those who finish their studies and start looking for work during the economic recovery, get more opportunities than those who fell into the recession.
If the relationship between siblings develops safely, the baby has the opportunity to learn from the earliest childhood to find a common language with other people. With an unfavorable psychological atmosphere in relations with brothers and sisters, according to observations of psychologists, children can already have behavioral disorders by the age of 4 years that affect their school performance and social adaptation at an older age (Dovey, Dana). Involved in the ordinary game, brothers and sisters do not only develop an understanding of the essence and meaning of interaction with other people, but they also receive food for introspection, get acquainted with their internal responses to the behavior of those with whom they have to communicate. What is more, they search for the most effective way to counter the response necessary for survival in a social environment.
Good relationships with a brother or sister have a long-term positive impact on the process of socialization of a person in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. If one kid in the family learns the social side of life looking at adults, then both of them learn this from each other. A brother and a sister can give a child something that parents are not always competent for (Howe, Nina, and Holly Recchia). They are better than father and mother will explain to the younger how to love the kindergarten, find friends in school, gain prestige in the classroom, learn to have teachers and with the least losses adapt to the system as a whole. It is what older brothers and sisters practice every day. Moreover, they will give one hundred points to the parents who grew up at another time and who have been for a long time in the circle of other social situations (McHale, Susan M., et al.).
Friends can betray and leave, siblings always remain. It is worthy to note that older and younger children in the family are an excellent source of mutual moral support, especially in situations where it is difficult to ask parents for advice, and it is difficult to share personal information with them (adolescent, mature age). Often, only siblings can really understand each other’s feelings (divorce, withdrawal of one of the close family members). While maintaining good relationships, they go through life with the understanding that they are not alone in this world. What happens even more often, it is these social ties that are the longest. However, this is perfect in the long term. While children are growing, adults are witnessing their endless quarrels and conflicts in the struggle for parental attention.
There is no arguing with the fact that both parents are sometimes trying their best not to allow hassles, fearing that this creates an unhealthy atmosphere in the relationships of children and does not bring anything good in themselves. It does not matter how close they are now, until eleven years they spent together about a third of their lives and participated in the development of each other’s personality (Dovey, Dana).
Next to the facts, siblings are first teachers when it deals with the social development. Brothers and sisters help each other navigate in different social situations. To begin with, their daily communication is an excellent practice of understanding the thoughts and feelings of another person. Strong ties between siblings help them successfully communicate with their peers at school. Also, when the girl has a brother or vice versa, the sister, for example, gives more opportunities for dating and romantic encounters with peers of the opposite sex. In the classic study of the well-known psychologist William Ickes, conducted in 1983, it was found that college students who had a sibling of the opposite sex had a quicker and easier conversation with a potential romantic partner (“Siblings As Important As Parents In Child’s Behaviour”). For their successes, they certainly should thank their older brother or sister.
What is more, by the way, the presence of a receptive, understanding between brother or sister contributes to the formation of cognitive abilities. A study by Canadian psychologists published in the journal Pediatrics in February 2014, on the one hand, confirmed a well-known fact: children in large families usually have a low vocabulary (it may happen because parents have less time to communicate with each child individually ). However, it turned out that this does not apply to those children who were fortunate enough to have cognitively sensitive older brothers and sisters ready to simplify their speech and clarify obscure words to the younger ones (“Siblings As Important As Parents In Child’s Behaviour”).
To sum up, everything that was mentioned above, in the course of most studies, scientists have concluded that the presence of brothers or sisters contributes to the development of the child’s responsibility and social maturity. If the point is about the only children in the family, then, as for the first-born children, parents place very high expectations on them, in contrast to the families in which another child is born. As a result, such children often grow creative, inventive and demonstrate outstanding both academic and social success. Thus, it is worth noting that siblings influence the social development of children in different ways. All families are different. Everything depends on both parents and the environment, the conditions in which they are nurturing. Nevertheless, the point is made by every conceivable indicator; siblings help children`s social development.
Ciciora, Phil. “News Bureau | ILLINOIS.” News.Illinois.Edu, 2017. Retrieved 30 August, 2017 from https://news.illinois.edu/blog/view/6367/205739.
Dovey, Dana. “The Sibling Effect: How Brothers And Sisters Impact Mental Health And Shape Personality.” Medical Daily, 2017. Retrieved 30 August 2017 from http://www.medicaldaily.com/sibling-effect-how-brothers-and-sisters-impact-mental-health-and-shape-399444.
Howe, Nina, and Holly Recchia. “Peer Relations | Sibling Relations And Their Impact On Children’S Development | Encyclopedia On Early Childhood Development.” Encyclopedia On Early Childhood Development, 2017. Retrieved 30 August 2017 from http://www.child-encyclopedia.com/peer-relations/according-experts/sibling-relations-and-their-impact-childrens-development.
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Sang, Samantha A., and Jackie A. Nelson. “The Effect Of Siblings On Children’s Social Skills And Perspective Taking.” Infant And Child Development, 2017, p. e2023. Wiley-Blackwell, doi:10.1002/icd.2023. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
“Siblings As Important As Parents In Child’s Behaviour.” Telegraph.Co.Uk, 2017. Retrieved 30 August 2017 from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/7014824/Siblings-as-important-as-parents-in-childs-behaviour.html.
Taumoepeau, Mele, and Elaine Reese. “Understanding The Self Through Siblings: Self-Awareness Mediates The Sibling Effect On Social Understanding.” Social Development, vol 23, no. 1, 2013, pp. 1-18. Wiley-Blackwell, doi:10.1111/sode.12035. Retrieved 30 August, 2017.