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Many of us tend to think of sibling rivalry as inevitable and, in general, negative.
But in her new book, entitled Siblings (brothers), clinical psychologist Linda Blair says that in that rivalry there may be key benefits to life.
“There is no better training camp in the world than sibling relations to learn how to get what you want in a diplomatic way,” the specialist told the BBC.
“To learn how to get what is important to you while you care about those around you and get the approval of the people around you and is more key to you, who are your parents,” he explained.
“It’s a perfect training scenario, so we should celebrate it instead of getting angry every time the children show their differences because those moments give you an opportunity to help them learn something.”
A key skill
Blair, who is the oldest of six siblings, remembers learning something as an older sister.
“I learned that if I was useful and helped with the little brats then I would recover from my parents some of the attention I had lost,” he told the BBC.
“And that’s why we often find first-born brothers in professions that have to do with caring for people and that’s why they tend to be so good at raising children.”
But in a family there are constant squabbles among children, sometimes endless, and for parents many times the easiest way to impose harmony is to send them all to silence.
“It’s true that saying” callense “is faster, but” not long term, “says the psychologist.
She recommends a strategy that requires more time and effort but will be worth it in the future: promote empathy.
“You tell them: ok, each one of you is going to tell the other what your complaint is, and they go and do it.”
Obviously only children over 3 years old can express in words their claim …
“And then you tell them: OK, now I want you to put yourself in Tommy’s shoes,how does he feel about what you’re saying?”
Blair says that although at first children may not be very good at doing this exercise, over time they will become better.
“This way you will be teaching them one of the most important things that exist: empathy, understanding how another person feels in this situation.”
Why the “powerful” empathy?
“When I know how the other feels, I have a very powerful tool with which I can probably get the other to change his mind,” explains Blair.
But not only that, “I can make the other change position and feel good.”
“And that’s a great victory,” he says.
Twins, the most competitive
According to Blair, according to the results of a large reference research on the behavior of twins, known as the Minnesota Study, in general, twins tend to be more competitive than cooperative.
“And if you think about it, it makes sense because not only do they compete because they want the same thing, but they also want it at the same time.”
“Whereas if someone is four years older than you, they will not need Mom at the same time that a baby needs mom, so in the case of the twins, competitiveness is even more fierce.”
A relief for parents
With regard to relations between siblings, the psychologist highlights an aspect that for her, as a mother, was a relief:
“It is not the color of the emotion among small brothers that determines how close there will be between them in adulthood,” he explains.
” It’s the intensity .”
“So if your kids fight like dogs and cats, that probably means they’re going to have a good relationship later.”
“The same as if they are wonderful.”
“What matters is the intensity of how they relate to each other,” he concludes.