Are you feeling down? You might want to call your sister.
According to The New York Times, more and more studies show the positive effects of having a sister, and the benefits start before you’re even in middle school. Brigham Young University researchers studied nearly 400 families with more than one child, and at least one of them was a pre-teen. The kids filled out psychological questionnaires about everything from how they cope with stress, to their self-esteem.
The result? Having a sister protected kids from feeling lonely, unloved, and self-conscious. It didn’t matter if there was a large age gap or if the sister was older or younger, the results were the same across the board. It’s not just kids who benefit from sisterly love. A British study found that adults with sisters are more optimistic, ambitious, and better at coping with stress.
So, why are sisters mood-boosters? Lead researcher Dr. Laura Padilla-Walker says that most girls want to communicate about emotions and their personal lives, while boys tend to shut people out and internalize everything. When they do talk, it’s not about emotions. It’s about sports, history, or current events. If you have a rocky relationship with your sister, this doesn’t mean you have to start sharing your deepest, darkest secrets with her to feel better. You can talk about the weekend, your soccer team, or even what you’re making for dinner. That’s because psychologists say it’s not what you talk about, it’s simply the act of talking that creates and reinforces connections.
So, is your house an all-boy zone? Psychologists say open the lines of communication so your sons feel connected to you and don’t internalize everything. For example, don’t just ask your son about his day and let him give you a one-word answer. Ask him what his favorite part of the day was, if anything exciting happened at recess or how he likes the new school basketball team.