The relationship among siblings is characterized by various features. While some of these features are social, others are genetic. Nevertheless, siblings paly a very important role in each others psychological, social and emotional lives. This essay presents a review of two articles: Sibling relationships in early/middle childhood: links with individual adjustment by Pike, Coldwell and Dunn (2005) and Sibling relationship patterns and their associations with child competence and problem behavior by Buist and Vermande (2014). The two studies deal with the influences of sibling relationship on the adjustment of individuals.
The first article is a study conducted by Buist and Vermande (2014) which aimed at examining the associations between the quality sibling relationship patterns and behavior, both competence and problematic behavior, among middle-aged children. Previous research had presented sibling relationship typologies; therefore, this study intended to distinguish these typologies in determining problem behavior and competence. In their study, Buist and Vermande examined the potential differences in gender composition in the typologies presented by previous scholars, effects of sibling relationships on child development, and the impact of differing sibling relationship typologies on the internalization and externalization of competence and problematic behavior. The scholars concentrated on middle childhood because, according to them, previous studies on the same topic had concentrated on subjects in the middle to late adolescence. The two researchers argue that due to the significant changes experienced during puberty, the patterns and results from research dealing with these subjects may differ considerably compared to earlier developmental phases. This informed their choice for middle childhood.
For purposes of the research, Buist and Vermande recruited 1670 participants: 847 girls and 823 boys with an evenly distributed sibling and gender combination. All the participants were in Grade 5, 6 and 7. Upon consent from the concerned parties, who included principals of the selected schools, parents and children, the researchers sent out questionnaires to 51 Netherlands-based Dutch schools for the collection of information. This was done over a five-year period, after which the combined data were recorded, analyzed and discussed as appropriate.
Buist and Vermande in this study found out that these children who had harmonious relationships with their siblings fared well since they reported less aggression and anxiety levels as compared to those whose relationships with their siblings were conflictual. The researchers also found that harmonious relationships contributed to greater levels of self-perceived social and academic competencies as well as self-esteem. Generally, the study concluded that sibling conflicts might be risky for the adjustment of a child. Despite limitations such as the exclusive use of cross-sectional data as well as the use of child self-reports, the authors established, through this study, that conflict and warmth are factors that significantly affect the social, academic and psychological adjustment of middle-aged children. Children who have harmonious relationships with their siblings report higher levels of adjustment while those in conflictual relationships report lower levels.
The second article is entitled Sibling relationships in early/middle childhood: links with individual adjustment by Pike, Coldwell and Dunn (2005). In this study, the authors sought to establish the connection that may exist between the relationship quality of siblings in early/middle childhood and the psychosocial adjustment of the child, in relation to the relationship between the parents and their children. According to these scholars, previous research has mainly investigated the aspects of sibling clashes and problematic behavior among them. This informed their study, which seeks to extend these arguments by exploring the link between sibling relation quality and child behavior.
For the purpose of gathering data for this study, Pike, Coldwell, and Dunn recruited 118 participant families that consisted of both parents who had children aged 4-6 in addition to a sister or brother aged 8 and below. In 13 of the selected families, the fathers failed to participate but this did not significantly affect the results since the mothers participated and the remaining 105 families formed a representative sample. The participating children were drawn from South England schools. Upon consent from the participants, the researchers visited them at home where both the children and their parents were interviewed. The parents were in addition provided with questionnaires that they were requested to complete. The information was recorded, ready for analysis and interpretation.
The findings in this study revealed that parents do not necessarily have an influence on sibling relationships, and hence adjustment patterns. According to the researchers, the parent-child relationship quality does not fully mediate the connection between the quality of sibling relationship and child adjustment. In this study, Pike, Coldwell, and Dunn were also able to find out some interesting patterns. They discovered that the relationship quality of siblings was related to the adjustment of the elder sibling and not to the adjustment of the younger one. They also found out, from the reports by parents, that the positive variation in sibling behavior was closely associated with the adjustment of the individual children. Although the study had limitations such as the fact that the elder siblings were not the oldest in the family order, it presents a strong argument due to the use of multiple perspectives. The decision by the researchers to involve parents made the study report very informative. Nevertheless, the scholars concluded that, depending on their findings, sibling conflict is not the only important factor determining the adjustment of children. This is because according to the study, positive attributes in sibling relationships are noticeable as they are also reflected in behavioral adjustment. Of importance to note is the final finding that sibling relationships are unique in nature and parents may have no say in the direction it takes. The study calls for further research on the parental impact on sibling relationships among minority groups and diverse cultures for the purpose of better generalizability.
In conclusion, it is important to note that both studies have some new information to offer. In the first study, Buist and Vermande find out that children who have harmonious relationships with their siblings do not experience a lot of problems in behavioral adjustments as compared to their counterparts in conflictual relationships. In the second article, Pike, Coldwell and Dunn reveal in their study that parental influence does not necessarily determine sibling relationships that later have an impact on a childs adjustment processes. All in all, both articles are very informative and provide direction for future research on the topic of sibling relationship and adjustment.
Buist, K. L., & Vermande, M. (2014). Sibling relationship patterns and their associations with child competence and problem behavior. Journal of Family Psychology, 28(4), 529-537.
Pike, A., Coldwell, J., & Dunn, J. F. (2005). Sibling relationships in early/middle childhood: links with individual adjustment. Journal of Family Psychology, 19(4), 523-532.
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