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This story originally appeared at Goodfullness by Anastasia.

If you have a sister, then she’s probably had a bigger impact on your life than you might have realized, and if you are someone’s sister, then you’ve probably done more good for your siblings’ lives than you may have realized.

A study out of Brigham Young University has found that having a sibling – whether they’re male or female – can encourage children to be more helpful and kind towards others. Of course, that’s not saying all only children are sociopaths, as parents still help to instill and promote good deeds, but having siblings means that children are just twice as likely to do good deeds towards others.

Now if your sibling is a sister, the study says, “Statistical analyses showed that having a sister protected adolescents from feeling lonely, unloved, guilty, self-conscious and fearful. It didn’t matter whether the sister was younger or older, or how far apart the siblings were age-wise.”

Out of the participating families in the study, 395 of them had at least 2 children, one of whom was 10 to 14 years old. To confirm data, researchers followed up with each family a year after the original data was collected. Those adolescents with sisters showed clear signs of benefits.

A theory surrounding why having a sister boosts happiness during adolescence is that girls tend to be better at communicating than boys are. This gives them the edge when it comes to problem-solving. In addition, it’s more likely that girls will take on a caregiver role to their siblings, which can be helpful in the years that they may be dealing with teenage drama. Regardless of the reason, say “thank you” to your sister.

If you’re a parent of multiple young children, there is a lot to be learned from the study, one of the major lessons being that it’s important to encourage your children to show affection towards one another.

Laura Padilla-Walker, a Brigham Young professor who was also the lead author of the research said, “Once they get to adolescence, it’s going to be a big protective factor.”

Also, if your children naturally fight a lot it’s no means for concern. In fact, a little fighting amongst siblings has its benefits. Padilla-Walker believes that it teaches children how to resolve conflict, as well as express their emotions, both of which are important life skills to have.

“An absence of affection seems to be a bigger problem than high levels of conflict,” Padilla-Walker adds.

What do you think of the study? Was having siblings or a sister beneficial to you?

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