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About the speaker: Dr. Ryan Persram is a developmental psychologist and Assistant Professor at Toronto Metropolitan University. His research program spans the child and adolescent years, and his work examines how the quality of relationships with siblings, peers, and romantic partners are linked to youth adjustment. His is specifically focused on the links between young people’s perceptions of relational support, security, and trust on adjustment. His work has been funded from SSHRC and the FRQSC (Quebec).

Unity in Growth: Harnessing Youth Well-Being through Siblings and Friends

Description: The relationships that young people have play a critical role in their development and their well-being. Parents continue to have an enduring impact on development and well-being of young people. There are, however, other relationships, namely sibling relationships, and friendships, that are also integral in shaping youth’s lives.

Although structurally different, (e.g., involuntary nature of siblings versus friends), siblings and friends become increasingly similar during adolescence. For example, rather than be considered primarily as play partners, siblings and friends are now thought of as potential support systems that can help youth navigate through various adversities. It is also a period in which the quality of the relationship is considered to be an important indicator for the health of the relationship and for the individual.

Traditionally, relationship quality has been measured as an aggregate of overall positive and negative qualities. More recently, research has aimed to take a more nuanced approach to studying the specific features of relationships that predict youth adjustment in various historical (e.g., COVID-19) or cultural contexts. The goal of this workshop will be to review findings based on a series of applied studies from my research that emphasize the effects of sibling relationships and friendships on youth social and emotional adjustment. This workshop will also highlight key evidence-based strategies that youth can use to maintain healthy relationships not only with their siblings and friends, but also the many other important relationships in their lives.

By attending this workshop you will: 

  1. Distinguish between the characteristics of what makes young people’s sibling relationships and friend relationships unique.
  2. Understand the importance of sibling relationships and friendships via the quality of these relationships in the development and well-being of youth.
  3. Appreciate how contextual factors, such as the pandemic and culture, are implicated in the study of youth relationship experiences.
  4. Identify evidence-based strategies that aim to maintain healthy sibling and friend relationships.