According to a new study, the age difference between siblings can have a significant impact on their mental health. Specifically, smaller age gaps are associated with poorer outcomes. Gardere explains that this trend is related to the tendency for parents to treat children the same way due to their similar maturational stages, which can lead to overlooking individual needs.
However, there are also positive mental health benefits to having siblings. Research has shown 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 take steps to distinguish and address each child’s individual needs and perspectives. They can also encourage a supportive and empathetic relationship between siblings by promoting open communication and creating healthy family dynamics. By taking these steps, parents can help their children develop strong relationships with their siblings that benefit their mental health in the long run.