A new study has found that the age difference between siblings can have a significant impact on their mental health. According to Gardere, smaller age gaps are associated with poorer outcomes, as parents often treat children the same due to their similar maturational stages, ignoring their individual needs. This can lead to anxiety and self-esteem issues for siblings as they constantly compare themselves to each other.
However, there are also positive mental health benefits to having siblings. Research shows that siblings can provide emotional support, companionship, and a unique understanding of each other’s experiences, fostering a sense of belonging and companionship. Gardere notes that while only children may receive more attention from their parents, siblings offer a different kind of support and companionship.
To mitigate the potentially negative effects of close age gaps between siblings, parents should make an effort to distinguish and address each child’s individual needs and perspectives. They should also encourage a supportive and empathetic relationship between siblings, helping them see each other as allies rather than competitors. Additionally, parents can foster a sense of emotional support and understanding among siblings by creating healthy family dynamics and promoting open communication.