Feature

Health scare of the week: Sibling rivalry’s psychic impact

Could seemingly harmless sibling squabbles jeopardize kids’ mental health?

Could seemingly harmless sibling squabbles jeopardize kids’ mental health? When University of Missouri researchers surveyed 145 pairs of teenage siblings over the course of a year, they discovered that those who tended to quarrel over fairness issues—such as whose turn it was to empty the dishwasher—were more likely to become depressed. Meanwhile, those who argued over privacy and personal space—such as borrowing clothes without asking—were more likely to be anxious and have low self-esteem. The effect of sibling rivalry “has to do with how they interpret these conflicts,” study author Nicole Campione-Barr tells the Toronto Globe and Mail. Teens may feel depressed if they believe they’re not “getting their fair share of family resources,” or anxious if an overbearing sibling makes it hard for them to secure their own space, Campione-Barr says. She recommends that parents set and enforce privacy rules and make a calendar for chores. But she says parents should avoid taking sides in teens’ quarrels, unless one child consistently bullies the other.

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