Skills That Siblings Learn from One Another

This taking charge helps both siblings develop important life skills. Children's development is enhanced when they interact with people who occupy a variety of roles. Observations of siblings' everyday behavior with one another have revealed that older siblings act as teachers, managers, and helpers when playing with their younger brothers and sisters, and the younger siblings assume the corresponding learner, managee, and helpee roles. In such situations, siblings learn not only about their own roles but also about the corresponding ones.

Cooperation and a general sense of goodwill between siblings certainly can enhance children's development. As in any close relationship, though, conflict is bound to arise. This conflict need not be damaging to the relationship. It can provide an opportunity for siblings to vent their emotions, express their feelings, and practice open communication. Both conflict and friendliness between siblings help children learn to consider other people's feelings, needs, and beliefs. Both kinds of behavior may be necessary to give children a variety of experiences in learning to deal with others. A balance of friendliness and conflict in sibling relationships can provide a unique opportunity for children to develop social and behavioral skills that will enable them to manage anger and disagreements and provide help and comfort to others. Learning these skills in their relationships with their siblings helps children form positive relationships with their friends and adjust well to the social demands that they encounter in school.

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