Tuesday, January 28th, 2014
Young children who have close relationships with older siblings may have an easier time developing good vocabularies. This is only one way in which healthy sibling relationships may help influence the development of younger siblings, according to new research published in the journal Pediatrics. More from Reuters:
How older children interact with their siblings is tied to the younger children’s development, Canadian researchers found.
“The idea is that here is this effect of being in a large family where you don’t get that many resources, but if you get an older sibling that’s really attuned to your needs that would be a modifying effect,” Jennifer Jenkins told Reuters Health.
Jenkins is the study’s senior author and the Atkinson Chair of Early Child Development and Education at the University of Toronto.
Previous research had found that children from large families tend to score lower on vocabulary, IQ and other academic tests, compared to those from smaller families.
“That’s been pretty well examined that the larger the family, the less good the child’s skill in language and IQ,” Jenkins said. “It’s really thought of as a resource dilution.”
For example, if a couple has a second child, the attention they spent on their first child will then be split among both kids.
She cautioned that whatever effect a large family may have on a child is small, however.
To see whether an older sibling can possibly fill in for some of that diluted attention, the researchers used data from an existing trial that included families from Toronto with 385 young children who had a sibling at least four years older.
Mothers and older siblings were scored on how they interacted with the younger child.
For example, the researchers scored whether the older sibling or mother were sensitive to the younger sibling’s abilities and gave positive feedback.
The younger sibling’s vocabulary was also tested by having the child point to an object’s picture after its named was said out loud.
The researchers found that children with many siblings tended to score lower on the vocabulary test, compared to those who had smaller families.
Children from large families whose older siblings scored higher during the interaction, however, tended to score higher on the test than those whose older brother or sister scored lower during the interaction.
The association between an older sibling’s so-called cognitive sensitivity and the younger child’s score remained strong even when the researchers also accounted for traits that might have influenced the results, such as gender and age.
While the overall association may be small, Jenkins said many traits that are associated with similar cognitive delays are of a similar size.
“It’s multiple and multiple accumulating influences,” she said. “I think all of these small influences are worth paying attention to.”
Image: Siblings, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, August 15th, 2013
Kids who grow up with more than one or two siblings may be less likely to grow up and go through a divorce, according to new research based on data collected from the General Social Survey between 1972 and 2012. The analysis found that each additional sibling–up to 7 siblings–reduced the chance of divorce by around 2 percent. More from USA Today:
“There are a lot of other factors that affect divorce that are more important than how many siblings you had. However, we’re finding that the number of siblings is a factor,” says Ohio State University sociologist Doug Downey, a co-author of the study. It is being presented Tuesday at a meeting of the American Sociological Association in New York City. “Each additional sibling reduces their chances of divorce a little bit.”
The authors suggest that siblings further the development of social skills useful in navigating marriage.
However, others who study divorce and family size say the study — while interesting — is far from definitive.
People from large families may be more family oriented, says sociologist S. Philip Morgan, director of the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He says the data from the General Social Survey are “somewhat problematic” for the issue of divorce.
“I’m not yet convinced.” he says. “The theory is interesting and plausible but not overpowering.”
Despite these findings, other studies have shown only children to have adult social skills that are similar to their peers who grew up with siblings.
Image: Big family, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
A survey of more than 7,000 mothers conducted by TodayMoms.com asked what the most stressful number of kids is in a family, and the verdict was–three kids. More from Today.com:
Mothers of three children stress more than moms of one or two, while mothers of four or more children actually report lower stress levels, according to an exclusive TODAYMoms.com survey of more than 7,000 U.S. mothers released Monday. Call it the Duggar effect: Once you get a certain critical mass of kids, life seems to get a bit easier.
On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most stressed, the average mom in our survey puts herself at 8.5. What’s stressing moms out? Plenty, from money worries to balancing the demands of work and home to feeling like her husband is sometimes just another big kid demanding attention. But the big secret of mom stress is that a lot of it comes from within: 75 percent of mothers said they stress more about the pressure they put on themselves to be “perfect” than they do the pressure or judgment they get from other moms.
“You always hear about the mommy wars, but I feel like we’re judging ourselves more harshly than anyone else,” says Jill Smokler, 35, “Scary Mommy” blogger and author of “Motherhood Comes Naturally (And Other Vicious Lies).” And she should know from stress: She has three kids, and totally agrees that it’s the most stressful number.
“Going from one to two was an easy, breezy transition,” says Smokler, a Baltimore mom whose children are 5, 7 and 9. “Two to three, everything was turned upside down. I do not feel like I have it together. You only have two hands! Just crossing the street and not being able to physically hold all their hands I find tremendously stressful.”
More stress nuggets from the online survey of 7,164 U.S. mothers, conducted the week of April 17 by TODAY.com and Insight Express:
- 46 percent of moms say their husbands/partners cause them more stress than their kids do.
- 72 percent of moms stress about how stressed they are.
- Biggest cause of stress: 60 percent say it’s lack of time to do everything that needs to get done.
- 60 percent of moms say raising girls is more stressful than raising boys.
- Nine out of 10 moms stress about staying fit and attractive.
Dr. Janet Taylor, a psychiatrist in New York and TODAY contributor, said mom stress is a problem she sees daily in her practice.
“Moms are acutely aware of the fact they do not have the time to take care of their own needs,” Taylor said. Forget reading a book, exercising or fun hobbies: Some moms barely have time to shower.
“Before you’re a mom, you take that for granted,” Taylor said. “When you are a mom you just don’t have the time.”
Image: 3 kids, via Shutterstock
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