Children shouting to each other Children shouting to each other Unruly behavior doesn't "rub off" on better-behaved siblings, a new study found. (Photo: DigitalFabiani / Shutterstock)

Having a 'bad' child could be a good thing

Research shows their siblings may benefit from it.

Parents, having a troublemaker like Stewie from the TV show "Family Guy" among your brood may not be such a bad thing – in fact, it might even be good. That's according to a team from Canada's University of Toronto and Israel's Tel Aviv University.

Scientists from both schools conducted a study that found that siblings, predominantly older siblings, of unruly children learn what not to do by watching them. The Israeli and Canadian researchers tracked 916 toddlers and their preschool- and school-aged siblings in some 400 families in and around Toronto to reach their conclusion.

"We found that in early childhood, children do not learn from each other how to be disruptive, violent or disobedient," wrote Tel Aviv University's Dr. Ella Daniel in the journal Child Development. "In fact, they are more likely to learn what not to do, or how not to behave. The older siblings of young children who are disruptive tend to become less disruptive themselves over time, creating a polarizing effect on their behaviors."

Using advanced statistical models, the researchers were able to identify the role of siblings in the development of each child's disruptive behavior, taking into account heredity, parenting, social environment and shared history.

The Sheen men at a Hollywood premier.Hollywood bad-boy Charlie Sheen, far right, may have unknowingly had a helping hand in molding Hollywood good-guy brothers Emilio and Ramon Estevez. (Photo: s_bukley/Shutterstock)

And while many studies have shown that rowdy children can have a negative influence on their siblings, these often have focused solely on the adolescent point of view. This new study accounted for the parents' as well.

"The study teaches us that we have little to worry about one sibling being 'a bad influence' on their brothers or sisters," said Daniel.

So keep on sipping at those sugary sodas, Stewie – you may be doing more good than harm.


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Having a 'bad' child could be a good thing
Kids tend to learn what not to do by observing unruly siblings, according to a new joint Canadian-Israeli study.