Sibling Fights Can Take a Toll

Researchers link them to anxiety, depression later

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 20, 2012 4:16 PM CST

(Newser) – A new study suggests that parents shouldn't ignore frequent arguments between their kids as harmless sibling rivalry. What's more, they should pay attention to what the fights are about, reports USA Today. Researchers found that:

  • Personal space, property: Teens who argued about these things—walking into a sibling's room unannounced or borrowing clothes without permission—were more prone to anxiety and low self-esteem the following year.
  • Fairness, equality: These arguments—complaints that one kid is the favorite or whose turn it is to do chores—were linked to feelings of depression the following year.

So what's a parent to do? Lead researcher Nicole Campione-Barr of the University of Missouri doesn't think it helps for parents to step in constantly to resolve disputes. In fact, that might make things worse. The better approach is to set and enforce household rules to head off the fights in the first place.

  (Shutterstock)
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