What is it about?

The number of older siblings a child has is negatively correlated with their verbal skills, perhaps due to competition for parents’ attention. The current study examined the role of siblings’ sex and age gap as moderating factors, reasoning that they affect older siblings’ tendency to compensate for reduced parental attention. We hypothesized that children with an older sister, especially with a large age gap, have better language abilities than those with older brothers. We reanalyzed data from the EDEN cohort (N = 1,154) and found that children with an older sister had better language skills than those with an older brother. Contrary to predictions, the age gap between siblings was not associated with language skills, and did not interact with sex. Results suggest the negative effect of older siblings on language development may be entirely due to older brothers, and invite further research on the mechanisms involved in this effect.

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Why is it important?

This study helps understand mechanisms involved in language acquisition and the impact that the family has on language skills. Here, we stress the importance of the entire family, not just parents, in children's language development.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The Effect of Older Siblings on Language Development as a Function of Age Difference and Sex, Psychological Science, August 2019, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/0956797619861436.
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