Penn State Siblings Are Special Project

Start Date: 2009

Funder: National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act


Sisters and brothers are children’s most common out-of-school companions, and sibling relationships are the longest lasting relationships in most people’s lives. Because of their sheer amount of contact, and also because of the emotional significance of this relationship, siblings are powerful influences on each other's development and adjustment. As parents, we know that sisters and brothers don’t always get along as well as we would like. Indeed, most parents say that sibling conflict and rivalry is their number one stressor at home.









Because of the importance of sibling relationships to children’s adjustment and to family harmony, we developed the Siblings Are Special program. The program aims to enhance the quality of sibling and family relationships and thereby promote positive adjustment as children move into middle school, including keeping children from engaging in risky behavior such as alcohol and drug use. Siblings are Special consists of a series of 12 after-school sessions for sibling pairs in elementary school, along with monthly family nights. 

We are now conducting a study to assess the impact of the program in collaboration with schools throughout Central Pennsylvania. Funding for this project comes from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as part of the National Institutes of Health's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding.