Science has proven that fighting with your sibling makes you a better person later in life

Science has proven that fighting with your sibling makes you a better person later in life

Anyone with a brother or sister knows that growing up, you spend about 90 per cent of your time fighting with your sibling. Yeah, I'll admit that me and my sister spent most of our formative years bickering and plotting and trying to ruin each other's lives. Sometimes those arguments could get pretty nasty, and there'd be a lot of name-calling and tantrums, and sometimes things would escalate and turn physical.

I'm also sorry to say that these fights continued well into adulthood. Seriously, there's nothing we wouldn't squabble over. Which is weird, because neither me nor my sister are particularly quarrelsome people. We'd avoid confrontation with everyone else except for each other.

However, as it turns out, all those years we spent fighting might have done us some good and built character after all. A recent scientific study from the University of Cambridge has apparently determined that people who fight with their sibling or siblings in childhood actually tend to do better in life later on, and also have a healthier adult relationship with their relatives than those who don't.

Two small boys arguing. Credit: Getty

The five-year-long research project, entitled 'Toddlers Up', analysed the development of kids between the age of two and six. Results from the 140 children observed indicted that fighting and debating with a sibling enhanced their use of language, planning skills, memory and self-control. However, only a mild rivalry was considered to be a good thing. A long and violent one between siblings could instead lead to relationship building and behavioural issues down the line.

Commenting on her study's findings, lead researcher Dr Claire Hughes stated:

"The traditional view is that having a brother or sister leads to a lot of competition for parents’ attention and love. In fact, the balance of our evidence suggests that children’s social understanding may be accelerated by their interaction with siblings in many cases. One of the key reasons for this seems to be that a sibling is a natural ally. They are often on the same wavelength, and they are likely to engage in the sort of pretend play that helps children to develop an awareness of mental states."

Two children shouting at each other. Credit: Getty

She added:

"The children who performed best on tasks designed to test their social understanding at the age of six came from families where the mother carried out conversations in which they elaborated on ideas, highlighted differences in points of view, or tuned into children’s interests. A lot of attention has been given to the beneficial impact of children being exposed to lots of family conversation. This shows we need to focus on the nature and quality of that conversation as well."

So there you have it. Next time you and your brother or sister fight each other, consider the fact that you could actually be doing each other a favour in the long-term. Just make sure you hug and make up afterwords.