-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Fights between siblings
can lead to anxiety, depression and lower self-esteem, a new study
University of Missouri researchers looked at 145 pairs of
siblings, average ages 12 and 15, over the course of a year and
found that many of their fights were about equality and fairness
(such as whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher) or invasion of
personal space (such as borrowing clothes without asking).
Teens who fought with siblings over equality and fairness had
higher levels of depression a year later, while those who fought
over personal space issues were more anxious and had lower
self-esteem, the researchers found.
Younger brothers with older brothers and girls with brothers had
more anxiety, while teens with an opposite gender sibling had lower
self-esteem, according to the study published Dec. 20 in the
The researchers also found that teens who were more depressed
and anxious had more fights with their siblings a year later, while
teens with higher levels of self-esteem had fewer fights with their
"Our findings may help parents, psychologists and others who work with and support teens to understand that all sibling conflicts are not created equally," study lead author Nicole Campione-Barr, an assistant professor of psychological sciences at the University of Missouri, said in a journal news release.
"It may be possible to avoid sibling conflicts by recognizing that adolescents desire more privacy as they strive for greater independence," she explained. "In addition, structured tradeoffs in chore duties and equal time with shared household items (like computer/video games) give siblings fewer opportunities to compare themselves unfavorably to one another."
Siblings fight in many households. While the study found an
association between some of these disputes and mood problems, it
did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.
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