Jade Small
Jade Small
April 11, 2024 ·  2 min read

Study Finds That Sisters Help Protect Siblings From Depression

Children ages 10 to 14 are a little less likely to experience depression when they have a sister, even if it’s a little sister, according to one study. It looked at how siblings and parents affect each other in families.

According to Padilla-Walker, a professor at Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life, “Siblings do matter in their own ways, even when parents’ influence is taken into account.” “They give kids something that parents don’t.” Padilla-Walker’s study came from the Flourishing Families Project at BYU and was published in August 2010 in the Journal of Family Psychology.

The study looked at 395 homes with more than one child, and at least one of the kids was a teen between the ages of 10 and 14. The researchers learned a lot about how each family worked and then checked back with them a year later. Studies using statistics showed that having a sister kept teens from feeling lonely, unloved, guilty, self-conscious, and scared. It did not matter if the sister was older or younger or how far apart in age they were.

Sibling Love Matters More

Brothers were important, too. The study found that having a loving brother or sister made people more likely to do good things, like helping their friend or keeping an eye on other kids at school. To be more specific, caring brothers encouraged kind behavior more than caring parents did. Doing good things was twice as likely to happen when you were close to your siblings as when you were with your parents.

Padilla-Walker said, “The message for parents of younger kids is to encourage sibling love.” “Once they get to adolescence, it’s going to be a big protective factor.” A lot of parents worry about their kids fighting all the time, and they have good reason to. The study did find that hostility was linked to a higher chance of crime.

But Padilla-Walker also sees a bright side: the fights teach the kids how to get along with others again and handle their feelings, which will help them in the future. “An absence of affection seems to be a bigger problem than high levels of conflict,” she said.

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