Sibling Relationships: Their Nature and Significance across the Lifespan

Sibling Relationships: Their Nature and Significance across the Lifespan

Sibling Relationships: Their Nature and Significance across the Lifespan

Sibling Relationships: Their Nature and Significance across the Lifespan

Excerpt

He loves being with her and her friends--he's very fond of one of her friends. He trails after Laura. . . . They play in the sand a lot . . . making pies. She organizes it, and swipes away things that are dangerous and gives him something else. They go upstairs and bounce on the bed. Then he'll lie there while she sings to him, and reads books to him. And he'll go off in a trance with his hanky (comfort object). The important thing is they're becoming games that they'll play together. He'll start something by laughing and running towards some toy, turning round to see if she's following. He'll go upstairs and race into one bedroom and shriek, and she joins him. . . .

It's worse now he's on the go. He annoys her. They fight a lot--more than four or five big fights a day, and every day. They're very bad tempered with each other. He makes her cry such a lot.

Thus two very different pairs of siblings, each with a baby brother of 14 months and a sister of nearly three years old, are described by their mothers. In their relationship we see hostility, aggression, comfort, consolation, provocation, pleasure, amusement, and excitement. No one watching young siblings can fail to be impressed by the range and the intensity of emotions expressed by the children or by the great differences between sibling pairs in the quality of their relationships. But this range of expressive behavior, and the nature of the interactions between the children, raise many important questions for psychologists.

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