Children are happier the fewer siblings they have -- study
Published 14/11/2010 | 05:00
One of the widest-ranging research projects on family life conducted in Britain has revealed that the fewer siblings children have, the happier they are -- and that only children are the most contented.
The findings suggest that "sibling bullying" could be part of the problem, with 31 per cent of children saying they are hit, kicked or pushed by a brother or sister "quite a lot" or "a lot". Others complain of belongings being stolen by siblings and being called hurtful names.
The figures are the first to emerge from Understanding Society, a study tracking the lives of 100,000 people in 40,000 UK households.
The findings are based on 2,500 questionnaires, analysed by Gundi Knies at the University of Essex, where the study is based.
She suggested that factors such as competition for the parents' attention or the fact that toys, sweets or space need to be shared could be to blame.
Ms Knies also pointed to other data within the study: 29.5 per cent of teenagers complain of being called "nasty names" by brothers or sisters "quite a lot" or "a lot", while 17.6 per cent say they have their belongings taken.
Professor Dieter Wolke of the University of Warwick, who carried out the work on tensions between siblings, said: "More than half of all siblings (54 per cent) were involved in bullying in one form or the other."
Although there is also evidence that points to siblings supporting each other, he warned that children who face bullying were particularly vulnerable to behaviour problems and unhappiness.