A new study suggests that the age difference between siblings can affect their mental health, with smaller age gaps leading to poorer outcomes. This trend is related to the tendency to treat children the same way due to their similar maturational stages, overlooking their individual needs. According to Gardere, this tendency for siblings to compare themselves to each other may lead to anxiety and self-esteem issues.
However, there are 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 can make an effort to distinguish and address each child’s individual needs and perspectives. They can also encourage a supportive and empathetic relationship between siblings, helping them to 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.