(HealthDay News) – For adolescents, each underlying topic of sibling conflict has a distinct impact on their emotional adjustment, according to a study published online Dec. 20 in Child Development.

Nicole Campione-Barr, PhD, from the University of Missouri in Columbia, and colleagues examined issues of “equality and fairness” and “invasion of the personal domain” in 145 adolescent sibling dyads (sister-sister, bother-brother, older sister-younger brother, and older brother-younger sister) to assess their effects on emotional adjustment over one year. The effect of internalizing symptoms on subsequent conflicts was also explored.

The researchers observed a correlation between “invasion of the personal domain” conflicts and increased levels of anxiety and reduced self-esteem one year later. Conflicts relating to “equality and fairness” issues correlated with greater depressed mood. More of both types of conflicts were predicted by greater internalizing symptomatology and lower self-esteem.

“Our findings may help parents, psychologists, and others who work with and support teens to understand that all sibling conflicts are not created equally,” Campione-Barr said in a statement. “It may be possible to avoid sibling conflicts by recognizing that adolescents desire more privacy as they strive for greater independence. In addition, structured trade-offs in chore duties and equal time with shared household items (like computer/video games) give siblings fewer opportunities to compare themselves unfavorably to one another.”

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