According to statistics, around 16% of children in America are living in families that include half or step siblings. If you still do not know what is the difference between a step sibling vs half sibling, we are here to make this distinction all clear. So, keep reading!


Sibling relationships

Psychologists have indicated that sibling relationships are some of the most significant relationships that a person has in their lifetime. Because these relationships form during childhood, they tend to last longer than other relationships. On average, a person spends more time interacting with his/her siblings than with close friends. 

Moreover, it could be argued that sibling relationships are some of the most authentic relations one can have. Because siblings grow up in the same household, and because they share the same parent or parents, they end up sharing similar experiences and memories. 

This is the main reason why, no matter our relationships with our siblings, they are part of who we are, and the relationship that we have with them, define us. 


What is a stepsibling?

Step siblings do not share a blood or a biological relationship. However, they are related as a result of the marriage between their parents. Therefore, step siblings are the children of a step-parent. 

The fact that stepsiblings are not related from a biological point of view does not mean that they cannot share a close bond. For instance, if these siblings are living in the same environment as full siblings, chances are that they will have the same relationship with full children. From a legal standpoint, step siblings do not have any rights on your property.

According to some studies, if a blended family that includes both full and stepsiblings lasts for more than six years, the relationships between the siblings will, most likely, become as strong as those between full children. 


What is a half-sibling?

A half-sibling is a sibling that is related to another person as a sibling because they have one parent in common. For example, if two children have the same mother, but different fathers, they are half-siblings. The same is true in the case of children who have the same father, but different mothers. 

According to science, half-siblings share around 25% of their DNA. Legally speaking, half-siblings have any rights to your property.


Adopted siblings

Adoption is another factor that can create various sibling relationships. Around 1 in every 35 children in America are adopted. Even though some studies show that, when not managed properly, the relationship between full siblings and adopted siblings can lead to microaggression, adopted siblings can integrate great into a family and the relationship between them and the other siblings can prove positive.

To help adoptive families develop healthy and positive relationships, numerous resources can be used to ensure good results. 


The sibling effect

The sibling effect is a term coined by Jeffrey Kluger in his book, The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us. Overall, the book explores what science has to say about the effects of having a sibling in a person’s life. 

For instance, it seems like the sibling dynamics that humans share can be found across numerous species in the animal world. Additionally, it looks like the type of relationship that is formed between siblings cannot be replicated. The main reason for this is the fact that, because siblings form their relationship in childhood, their bond is very intimate and familiar and, thus, difficult to replicate.

Studies also show that you learn conflict-resolution skills through the conflicts that you have with your siblings, in your childhood. If you have a combative sibling, you learn how to manage fights with people that are alike more easily. Similarly, if your sibling is younger, or in need of protection, you learn to be more empathetic towards others.

If you are a man who grew up with sisters, science says that you are a better listener and that you might be better equipped than others when it comes to bonding and communicating with women. Likewise, if you are a girl who grew up with a brother, the statistics say that you will do better with boys.

Another interesting finding is that the oldest children have, on average, a higher IQ and that they are linguistically more accomplished. This has a lot to do with the fact that, when they get a second or a third baby, parents often lack the necessary time to give the same level of attention to the new baby.

However, science has shown that younger siblings are usually the smartest, as they often develop strategies such as the ability to charm others in order to get what they want.

Because middle children often lack the attention that they crave at home, it seems like they are more likely to develop closer friendships with people outside the family.


Should only children worry?

If you do not have siblings, this does not mean that you won’t get to develop the communications or relationship skills that siblings often have. In fact, as an only child, you will most likely be able to learn all these skills outside of the home, through the relationships you develop with our peers and friends.

A nice advantage of being an only child is the fact that, statistically, you are more prone to excel from an academic point of view. Plus, because you are more exposed to adult conversations, you will be able to grasp abstract concepts easier. 


Sibling rivalry

If there is more than one child in a home, chances are that they will fight. Sibling rivalry is often a result of feelings of jealousy, or competition. When not managed properly, such conflicts can prove not only stressful but also energy-draining on the whole family.

The main reason why sibling rivalry occurs has to do with the fact that each child is competing in an attempt to discover and define who they are. Additionally, children might feel like they do not get the same level of attention, or they might feel threatened by the introduction of a new member of the family. 

Studies have also indicated that children are more prone to fight in homes where parents consider that aggression and fighting between the siblings is a normal way of resolving conflicts. Besides, it seems like, if you are a stressed parent that has little time available to spend with your children, there is a bigger risk that they will fight constantly.


How to help siblings get along?

To prevent your children from fighting too much, there are some golden rules that psychologists recommend. Firstly, you must never compare your children, to each other, or other children. This also means that you should never play favorites. 

Secondly, it is recommended that you keep your children busy and that you show them attention before they start fighting, not only after they have fought. 

Thirdly, you should make sure that you give your children plenty of individual attention. This way, they will feel loved and accepted, and, as a result, they will be less likely to fight with each other. 

Moreover, even if it is important that your children share part of their belongings, they should not have to share everything that they own. Therefore, make sure that all your children have their own space.

Having a list of rules that all children have to respect inside the home is also a good idea, as this will impose a sense of order and, consequently, there will be fewer chances for them to fight over unimportant things.

Lastly, try to be a good example for your kids by treating everybody with the respect that they deserve. Also, make sure that you reward them whenever they act as a team.


Teach siblings how to resolve conflicts

While it might seem that conflicts between siblings often get resolved by themselves, this does not mean that you shouldn’t try to teach them how to handle their conflicts in a healthy way. The first thing that you should do is to keep a close eye on how your children behave during fights. This way, you can intervene before abuse or bullying occurs.

After the fight, you can have the children get settled and, then, discuss the reasons why they ended up fighting. It is essential that you do this before you punish them. This will help them become aware of why their behavior was not suitable. While you discuss the conflict, you should never try to figure out who started the fight. Instead, make sure that both the children are held accountable for their actions.

Moreover, it might also help to teach your children strategies on how to avoid or manage conflict. For instance, you can remind them of how important it is for them to respect each other, to share their things with one another, and how to compromise when the situation requires it. After the conflict is resolved, ask your children to express their feelings about one another.