Web Exclusive: The New Science of Siblings

And what do parents turn to, for help? Often, it's childrens' books that portray brothers and sisters learning to get along. Kramer analyzed the 261 most popular such books and videos. Despite their happy endings, the first half of these stories model all sorts of ingenious ways for siblings to taunt, belittle, and blame each other.

Young readers actually learn from the characters new undermining techniques they'd never considered. So when Kramer gave a control group of families these books to read daily, the siblings' behavior didn't improve -- it got worse so quickly Kramer had to stop the study.

When I was a child, my parents would agonize over the battles I had with my brothers. They warned us we'd end up hating each other. But the one thing they got right was they never separated us -- they never forced us to play apart, to avoid conflict restarting.

We'd sulk for an hour, sure, but usually, (maybe always), we'd be playing again before nightfall. We never got around to saying "sorry" or resolving who started it. It turned out that was okay-- it was starting the games again that mattered.

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