Assessment and prediction of positive and negative dimensions of early sibling relationships
Chapman, Jennifer Kathryn
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Children’s sibling relationships consist of both positive and negative responses. However, previous work has tended to focus on the negative aspects, while neglecting those which are positive. In addition, much research on sibling relationships has been undertaken at points when both children are verbal, thus failing to address early periods in the development of sibling relationships. The current study aims to overcome these gaps by developing an instrument with items that capture both positive and negative aspects of older children’s relationships with their newborn sibling. It is also designed to capture the older sibling’s relationship with the newborn sibling across the first year following the sibling’s birth. Data were collected from pregnant mothers and their children prior to the sibling’s birth (T1), one month after the birth (T2), and one year later (T3). Exploratory factor analysis was used to validate the existence of positive and negative factors and select items which loaded on each factor. Concurrent, convergent, and predictive validity of the instrument was established through correlation with established measures of child well-being. Finally, path analyses were used to identify predictors of positive and negative features of sibling relationships. Findings indicated that positive sibling relationships at T3 were predicted by child age and child compliance with social requests and at T1 and T2. Negative sibling relationships were predicted by lower levels of maternal self-efficacy at both T1 and T2. This instrument shows promise for use in clinical and research settings, and the predictive findings provide more information about the ingredients of a successful sibling relationship.