Children's Sibling Relationships: Developmental and Clinical Issues

Children's Sibling Relationships: Developmental and Clinical Issues

Children's Sibling Relationships: Developmental and Clinical Issues

Children's Sibling Relationships: Developmental and Clinical Issues

Synopsis

In the last decade, the significance of siblings in children's development and adjustment has been widely recognized, and research on brothers and sisters has increased dramatically. Bringing together exciting research on siblings by leading developmental psychologists and clinicians, this volume's contributions were originally presented at the First International Symposium on Siblings held in Leiden. This book focuses on both the significance of siblings as influences on individual development, and on the importance of the relationship in families with sick, disabled or troubled children. It covers the recent developmental research with chapters on the development of sibling relationships in early and middle childhood, the links between sibling relationships and those with parents, peers and friends, and the influence of siblings on children's adjustment. It then focuses on clinical issues such as siblings as sources of support for unhappy or sick children, or for children in disharmonious homes, and the vulnerability of siblings of disabled children. These clinical issues are discussed in practical terms by leading practitioners. Clear in presentation, comprehensive in its coverage of the exciting recent research, and full of practical insights, this volume brings to light important developmental principles, and raises questions regarding the assumptions about family processes and how different relationships within the family affect one another. For family researchers, those interested in the individual development of children, and for clinicians concerned about the impact of troubled or disabled children on their siblings or the potential of siblings as therapists, this book will be the key. No other book covers the recent research in this important topic and discusses the clinical issues in depth and in practical terms.

Excerpt

The Pennsylvania State University

To many practicing clinicians, and indeed to most parents, it is obvious that the relationship between siblings is one characterized by distinctive emotion and intimacy from infancy onwards. It is a relationship that offers children unique opportunities for learning about self and other, and one that has considerable potential for affecting children's well-being, intimately linked as it is to the relationship each child has with the shared parents. Yet, the significance of siblings in children's development was, until the 1980s, a neglected topic in systematic research. This neglect seems particularly surprising given the interest that clinicians and family systems theorists have expressed in the part that siblings play in family relationships and in the adjustment of individuals (e.g., Levy, 1937; Minuchin, 1988; Petty, 1953; Winnicott, 1964), and given the importance that Piagetian theory attributes to children's interactions with other children. More recently there has been a welcome increase in research on siblings, and the contributions to this volume--originally presentations to the First International Symposium on Siblings held in Leiden, in December 1990--illustrate some of the exciting directions that this new interest is taking.

The first half of the book focuses on developmental issues. The first chapter (by Dunn) provides an overview of the issues in sibling research that are currently receiving particular attention: developmental changes in sibling relationships during early childhood and the nature of sibling relations in middle childhood; the links between sibling relationships and those with parents, peers, and friends; the influence of sibling relationships on individual outcome and adjustment; and the impact on children of growing up with disabled or sick . . .

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