Negative sibling relationship are strongly linked to aggressive, anti-social behavior and even delinquency and substance abuse later in life, according to research out of the Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development. However, improving sibling and family relationships by the time older siblings move to middle school can reduce the negative effects of sibling rivalry,
The research team had a group of siblings take part in a program called SIBlings Are Special (SIBS), designed by the Social Science Research Institute at Penn State. There, researchers used a series of games, role-playing, and art activities to teach sibling pairs how to communicate positively, how to problem solve, and how to see themselves as team rather than as competitors. Siblings exposed to the program learned more self-control, had more confidence, performed better in school and had fewer internal problems such as symptoms of depression.
Researchers suggest that parents should encourage their children to feel like team players, give them tools to discuss ad resolve issues, and help them to build a more positive relationship with one another. They also suggest that parents need not step into resolve conflict but rather, teach their children to do so themselves. Building positive sibling relationships in childhood benefits the entire family, and benefits children throughout their lives.
Source: Journal of Adolescent Health and Science Daily, November 2012.