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Having a sister boosts a child’s mental health and self-esteem, suggests study

A 2010 study shows that having a good relationship with sisters provided individuals with emotional and psychological advantages.

Having a sister boosts a child’s mental health and self-esteem, suggests study
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | cottonbro studio

Siblings are complicated. It is hard to live with them, terrible to live without them. Having a constant presence in life like that automatically implies a huge impact on an individual's life. When it comes to sisters, this impact is positive. The 2010 study published in the Journal of Family Psychology elucidated how having a sister leads to better mental health. The study further explains the changes that they noticed in the life of the participants due to the presence of sisters. These changes gave the individuals better tools to deal with their future, making them more prepared and wholesome in the process.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Ron Lach
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Ron Lach

Brigham Young University, Utah, conducted this study on 395 families. These families had multiple siblings, all within the age range of 10 to 14 years old. Alexander (Alex) Jensen, assistant professor in the School of Family Life and the author of the research, shared on Motherly, "They help you develop social skills, like communication, compromise, and negotiation. Even sibling conflict, if it is minor, can promote healthy development." The study, as per BYU News, concluded that having a good relationship with sisters provided individuals with emotional and psychological advantages.

As per the study, having a sister made people feel less lonely, unloved, guilty, self-conscious, and fearful. "What we know suggests that sisters play a role in promoting positive mental health," Jensen added, "and later in life, they often do more to keep families in contact with one another after the parents pass." Sisters ensure that individuals always know that they have someone backing them up at all points in life. They never tend to feel as if they are going through all of their hardships alone.

The relationship also teaches individuals how to deal with disagreements calmly that don't affect their own sensibilities. "Even if there is a little bit of fighting, as long as they have affection, the positive will win out," lead study author Laura Padilla-Walker, a professor in BYU's School of Family Life, said in an interview with ABC News. "If siblings get in a fight, they have to regulate emotions. That's an important skill to learn for later in life." Sisters showcase compassion and love in their interactions, which carry on to the social behavior of individuals. It leads to them becoming more kinder and giving in nature.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Kampus Production
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Kampus Production

The study also found that individuals with sisters had better communication skills. It shows how men with sisters were better at interacting with women around them compared to others who were only child or had brothers. This trend was noticed in girls with brothers, as well. "Some research suggests that having a sibling who is a different gender from you can be a real benefit in adolescence," Jensen shared. "Many of those sibling pairs become closer during the teen years because they become good sources of information about the opposite sex."

Apart from this study, other sources have also expressed the same opinion about sisters. Jeffrey Kluger, author of The Sibling Effect, believes that sisters benefit greatly when it comes to conflict resolution. In terms of elder sisters, individuals understand how to handle tough arguments, while when it comes to younger sisters, they figure out how to be nurturing and empathetic in discussions. 

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