The effect of siblings on children's social skills and perspective taking

Authors


Abstract

The current study examined associations between sibling characteristics (being an only child, having an older brother, younger brother, older sister, or younger sister) and two aspects of social competence, and how these processes may differ based on child gender. Participants included 112 children ages 5 to 7 with either one or no siblings. Results suggested that siblings' influence on social competence is complex. For perspective taking, sibling characteristics and child's gender did not have significant main effects. However, interactions between older brother and child gender and between younger brother and child gender showed that girls without a sibling had greater perspective taking than girls with brothers, whereas, boys with brothers seemed to benefit somewhat from their presence. Furthermore, increases in social skills over one year were observed among children with a younger sister compared to only children. Implications of siblings' influence on children's perspective taking and social skills are discussed.

Highlights

  • Researchers examined how sibling characteristics influenced social competence based on child's gender.
  • Hierarchical regression analyses suggested girls without a sibling had greater perspective taking than girls with brothers, boys with brothers seemed to somewhat benefit in perspective taking and increases in social skills over one year were observed among children with a younger sister.
  • Findings suggest the influence of siblings are more complex than simply having a sibling or not.

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