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Fighting with your sibling can actually make you a better person, new study suggests

The study which was titled 'Toddler's up' studied a total of 140 children between the ages of two and six over a span of five years
UPDATED APR 10, 2020
(Source:Getty Images)
(Source:Getty Images)

We have all been in situations where we fought with our siblings over the smallest of things. A new study now suggests that it is probably for the best. The University of Cambridge study discovered how a healthy dose of sibling rivalry could, in fact, be good for our emotional and social development.

The study which was titled 'Toddler's up' studied children between the ages of two and six in the span of five years. Children’s cognitive and social development was the focus of the study. The study was conducted on a total of 140 students and it was noted that sibling rivalries can have a positive impact on a person’s early development, even when the bond is a temperamental one.

Study suggests fights with siblings can better understand human emotions (Pexels)

While sustained sibling rivalry could sometimes lead to relationship-building and behavioral issues, it was found that milder forms of rivalry among siblings can do good for healthy childhood development. The findings of the research were published by Dr. Claire Hughes, Deputy Director at the University of Cambridge’s prestigious Centre for Family Research, in the book titled 'Social Understanding and Social Lives'.

"The more combative siblings are, and the more they argue and the older child puts the younger one down, the more they are learning complex lessons about communication and the subtleties of language," Claire said in an interview with The Guardian. "The more the children upset each other, the more they learn about regulating their emotions and how they can affect the emotions of others. The more they point-score, the more it can motivate them to achieve."

Study suggests it can also help learn social skills (Pexels)

However, Claire explains that there is a need to set boundaries. "Of course, if sibling rivalry gets out of hand, it can be very negative. Persistent violence is a strong predictor that the aggressive child will bully their peers," she said. "I don’t want to be the woman who says it’s good if your children hate each other, but parents might take some sort of comfort, when their children are fighting, in the discovery that they are learning valuable social skills and intelligence which they will take outside the home, and apply to other children."

Judy Dunn, professor of developmental psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry, suggested that although "it may not feel like it, sibling rivalry can be constructive, preparing them for important relationships when they are older". Dr. Tina Kretschmer, co-author of 'Siblings – Friends or Foes?' further added that parents should not try to stifle their children's rivalry. "It's a natural part of sibling relationships and it has its good sides: it can motivate them to choose different niches in which to excel," she said.

However, Dorothy Rowe, psychologist and author of 'My Dearest Enemy, My Dangerous Friend: Making and Breaking Sibling Bonds', believes that it is important for parents to intervene in disagreements in order to show their children that there is a better way to solve arguments. At the same time, she added that parents should avoid taking sides.