Fighting With Your Siblings Could Affect You Even Months Later


Sibling spats are no fun. Source: Shutterstock

I remember getting in a big fight with my brother once where I actually un-friended him on Facebook (yeah, I was pretty mad) and that argument lasted for quite awhile. Any time I thought about it, I’d get upset.

I remember thinking that as time went by, maybe my still feeling crummy was just me overreacting. However, a new study seems to show that those fights we have with our siblings can have lasting negative effects on us — even a year later.

The study was conducted by a research team at the University Missouri, and they followed 145 pairs of adolescent siblings. Depending on the type of fight these duos had, the researchers found connections to varying types of negative consequences twelve months later.

Fights between the sibling pairs related to “violations of personal space and property” showed a connection to both a decrease in the individuals’ self-esteem and higher levels of anxiety. And those fights regarding “issues of equality and fairness?” Well, the researchers found a connection with more depression. It seems that the “last word” really doesn’t seem to be the last of these fights.

I’ll say that for me, fights with my brothers have always stung the most — often more than those with my friends, my boyfriend, even my parents. I think because my siblings were the ones who could relate most to what it was like to grow up in my same environment, I wanted us to be a really awesome team. When we disagreed on something, it just felt really personal. Plus, a fight happening where you live and can’t really distance yourself from is an added layer of rough.

The researchers of the original study have a couple suggestions for parents about how to keep sibling bickering at bay, and while I certainly can’t claim to be an expert on sibling relationships, there are a couple things that over the years I’ve tried to do to keep the sibling peace at least in my household.

I try to direct family conversation toward topics that can include all us kids, rather than just focusing on one person’s achievements in school or sports (I totally used to tally up how often we’d talk about my brothers’ games at dinner…). I also try to never assume what my brothers’ plans are. Too many times I’ve figured they didn’t need to use our shared car, only to have a blowout later when it turns out we all made separate plans.

Believe me, we still fight. I mean, it happens. But knowing how long-lasting those fights can be, I think it’s important to make sure like with any relationship, you’re taking the time to really respect the other person. Especially with this information that your sibling spats can leave you still feeling not-so-great even a while after, maybe trying to keep the peace between you and the sibs would be a good resolution for the new year that could keep all of you feeling healthier and happier.

Do you fight with your siblings? What are the things you most often fight about? Do you have any advice to share about getting along with your siblings? Tell us in the comments!

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  • Victoria

    I always fight with my sister. She gets upset really easily, and often likes to hit me. she likes to burp in my face, and I always get in trouble when I hit her back after she hit me. She always calls me fat, and I’m kind of anorexic, so it hurts.

    • molly

      I get you I completely know how you feel my sister’s dont always have physical contact but they definitely have you hurting inside just stand up for yourself and pick you r battles

  • jkjkjk

    Fights are hard no matter who it is, but when it’s a family member it’s much worse. My brother and I had times when we would physically fight and someone would have to literally tear us apart. So anyway, I don’t know if I can ever trust my brother nor many of my family members, and love is very confusing when no trust exists .

  • Ana

    I always fight with my sister and I remember once when we got really mad and she told me that she wished I wasn’t her sister that really hurt me 🙁 but then we forgived each other 🙂

  • Indigo

    I could never stop fighting with my brother, he’s just too annoying. And he’s smart for his age, so he’s not as gullible as he should be. Our fights often resort to physical violence, and me saying “hey, you can’t hit a girl,” and, “Mom, he hit me.” Many of our fights start because he’s so cranky, and can’t take criticism. I still love him