Parental Sensitivity Towards Toddlers and Infant Siblings Predicting Toddler Sharing and Compliance

Sheila R. van Berkel, Marleen G. Groeneveld, Judi Mesman*, Joyce J. Endendijk, Elizabeth T. Hallers-Haalboom, Lotte D. van der Pol, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Children with younger brothers or sisters are exposed to parenting directed towards themselves as well as parenting directed towards their siblings. We examined the hypothesis that mothers’ and fathers’ sensitive parenting towards their second-borns predicts compliance and sharing behavior in their firstborns, over and above their parenting towards their firstborns. In a sample of 388 families with a toddler and infant, parental sensitivity, child sharing behavior, and child compliance were observed during two different home visits, one with father and one with mother present. The results showed that toddlers shared more with their younger siblings and showed more compliance when their fathers were more sensitive towards them, but only if fathers showed low sensitivity towards the younger siblings. We suggest two explanations: toddlers may show more positive behavior to ensure continuation of their favored position, or they may compensate for the lack of fathers’ sensitivity towards the younger siblings. Our study highlights the importance of the broader family context of parenting for child socio-emotional development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2270-2279
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Compliance
  • Fathers
  • Prosocial development
  • Sensitivity
  • Siblings


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