Differential Treatment of Siblings in Two Family Contexts

Susan M. McHale, Terese M. Pawletko

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157 Scopus citations


We examined differential treatment of siblings (maternal involvement, discipline, children's chores) in 2 contexts: families with and without a disabled child. Further, we assessed the connections between differential treatment and both children's adjustment and sibling relationships. Subjects were 62 children, 8–14 years old, half with younger disabled siblings and half with younger nondisabled siblings. In home interviews children rated their adjustment and sibling relations, and mothers reported on discipline strategies used with each child. In 7 nightly phone interviews, mothers recalled durations of specific activities with each child and each child's chores during that day. Analyses revealed greater levels of differential treatment in families with disabled children but no context differences in the correlations between older and younger siblings' treatment. Dimensions of differential treatment were linked to children's adjustment and sibling relationships, and some of these links differed across context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-81
Number of pages14
JournalChild development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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