When we’re kids, our siblings might as well be our worst enemies. They borrow our clothes without asking, get jealous of our new toys, tattle on us to our parents and are basically the ugliest thorn in our lives.
Until they’re not. The older we get, the closer many of us grow to our siblings.
Here are another three reasons our siblings might be the best thing to ever happen to us.
Our siblings made us smarter
When you’re surrounded by your siblings all the time, you end up learning from them. Researchers from all over the world suggest that the way siblings learn from each other is very similar to the way students learn from teachers. According to several studies,
“both older and younger siblings initiate learning activities. Do you remember playing games where one was a cashier and one a customer? Or how about one was a strict teacher and one a troublesome student? Siblings acting as teachers use a variety of instructional techniques during those informal lessons.”
That isn’t to say a child without siblings is less intelligent or fares more poorly in school but simply that you have someone to role-play or practice real-life roles with someone before you really enter practical life.
Having a sibling around might have made us healthier
According to Colin Brazier, who wrote Sticking Up For Siblings, having a sibling has been linked to smaller chances of suffering from obesity, allergies and mental health issues. On the obesity front, having a sibling increases your “energy expenditure” (so like all those afternoons spent chasing each other around — that saved your life) and your calorie intake (possibly from eating more child-sized meals with kids). As for allergies, it also seems logical that if you’re exposed to germs as a child via your sibling, you’re less likely to develop autoimmune disorders. ]The most likely explanation is the Hygiene Hypothesis, which posits that our body’s defenses are primed by early exposure to germs, of which siblings provide highly efficient carriers.
And hey, we did get chicken pox over with more quickly by having our sibling around.
Our siblings influenced our ambition
Basically, this means that first-borns are motivated by learning (a goal they set for themselves), whereas second-borns want to win (based on goals set by others). Either way, our siblings influence how we strive to achieve and can even help us reach those goals along the way. The eldest sibling needs to set a metric so the younger one can follow. This a non-stop cycle of healthy competition and keeps all the children within a family motivated to do better and better. Children who have found to have two or more siblings have also been known to be more ambitious as they had not one but two or more footsteps to follow.
So when you’re at the dinner table, showing a little gratitude for your brother or sister might not be a bad idea. After all, they helped make you the awesome person you are (I mean, we can give them a little credit now, can’t we). And you should never stop reminding them of that.