How would I be if I had different siblings?

I know that siblings shape a person. Whether you are an only child, have one older sibling, three younger siblings, or are the middle child of five, the effects of having siblings runs deep. In a podcast by NPR, Jeffrey Kluger, author of the book The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us, discusses current scientific research about the role siblings play on our behavior.

One of the biggest areas where we see the effects of siblings is in conflict. Klugger pointed out “one of the most profound effects siblings have on you is that area of conflict resolution skills, that area of relationship formation and maintenance.” When resolving a conflict between siblings, you have to learn to share, compromise, and react when you do or don’t get your way. This is a skill you take from your toddler years throughout your whole life. According to an article by U.S. News, siblings may also buffer stress and inspire us towards good or bad behavior.

Not only do siblings in general have an effect, but specifically order, gender, and number also play a role in development. In an article by Psychology Today, it states “Birth order has a powerful impact upon children’s emotions, behavior and personality development. By a twist of fate a child is born into a particular spot in the family, and from this position, he will have unique emotional experiences. Each spot in the order has it’s advantages and challenges.” For example, many firstborns experience lots of love and attention, leading to high self-confidence but also high expectations from first-time parents. Children born second have the advantage of calmer, more experienced parents and learning from someone older, but may be rushing to keep up with their older sibling.

Middle children often get the reputation of being left out, since the older and younger kids are doing things for the first or last time of the family. However, they benefit from having the experience of having an older and a younger sibling and learning how to deal with peers of all age ranges through the differences of their siblings. Younger siblings are usually more adventurous, outgoing, and creative, but can also be more rebellious and take advantage of parents who have loosened up with experience. Finally, only children have the reputation of to be high-maintenance, perfectionists, and spoiled, since they never learned how to share. However, they can also be more self-motivated and organized.

Siblings have a profound effect on people’s lives. We are shaped by our family experiences and the way we grow up translates into our later years. How have your siblings had an effect on you? How would you be if you had different siblings— order, gender, or number?

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CC BY-SA 4.0 The Power of Siblings by Beth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

2 Comments
  1. Mary 4 weeks ago

    Hi Beth!! I have two younger siblings and am the oldest child and I found many connections between this article and my life. My younger sister id definitely the most adventurous of our family, but she also strives to be like me. It is quite possible I have never related to something more than the quote, “Children born second have the advantage of calmer, more experienced parents” because as the oldest child, I feel there is so much my parents don’t know. I thinl you would enjoy this article, https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-010-0618-7_3, about birth order affecting sibling competition. I look forward to what you write next because your writing is very good!

  2. Arthadius 4 weeks ago

    Dear Beth
    I agree with what your saying with sibling “one of the most profound effects siblings have on you is that area of conflict resolution skills, that area of relationship formation and maintenance.” Me and my 2 brothers and 1 sister are always fighting but we always love each other by the end of the day having siblings can ether make a family or break it.

    Arthadius Snaders

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