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It's not just girls who get a developmental boost from growing up with a sibling.

Boys also benefit from having a sister or brother, according to new research from Brigham Young University published in the Journal of Research on Adolescence. The insight could help parents and counselors in determining how to treat behavioral issues in boys and teens, researchers said.

The finding surprises researchers because boys typically don't report benefiting from any relationship to the extent that girls do, Laura Padilla-Walker, one of the authors, said in a prepared statement.

"It's an area where parents and therapists could really help boys," she said.

Brothers, the team, found, relied on affection from siblings as much as sisters do in learning to sympathize and do nice things for other people.

But only children aren't totally left out, either: Having a best friend can lead to the same results, researchers said.

In the study, funded by the Flourishing Families Project, researchers followed about 300 pairs of teenage siblings for three years. The project measured their development, tracking how they bonded and interacted with friends and family members.

On the other end, boys who didn't interact much or simply didn't get along with their siblings were significantly more likely to have behavioral issues later on.

Several BYU endowments, grants and donors pay for the Flourishing Families Project.