CHILDREN can learn as much from their brothers and sisters as they do from their parents, new research suggests. The influence siblings have on each has a considerable impact on a childs development and shouldnt be underestimated, say scientists. While parents are better role models in formal settings, such as table manners, siblings have more influence in how kids behave 'on the street, the researchers say. This includes how to act when at school and how to be 'cool round friends - and may have an impact on bad habits such as drinking or smoking and the likelihood of teenage pregnancy. Prof Laurie Kramer, of the University of Illinois, said: What we learn from our parents may overlap quite a bit with what we learn from our siblings, but there may be some areas in which they differ significantly. The teams report says: Parents are better at teaching the social niceties of more formal settings - how to act in public, how not to embarrass oneself at the dinner table, for example. But siblings are better role models of the more informal behaviours - how to act at school or on the street, or, most important, how to act cool around friends - that constitute the bulk of a childs everyday experiences. Siblings are closer to the social environments that children find themselves in during the majority of their day, which is why its important not to overlook the contributions that they make on who we end up being. TG Prof Kramer went on: We know that having a positive relationship with siblings is related to a whole host of better outcomes for teenagers and adults. A lot of current research looks at how children learn undesirable behaviours like smoking, drinking and other delinquent acts, from exposure to an older siblings antisocial behaviours as well as that of their siblings friends. For example, a female teen is at higher risk for getting pregnant if her older sister was a teenage mother. Developing a better understanding of sibling influences can help us design effective strategies for protecting younger children in families. According to Kramer, one of the most important things parents can do is to help foster a supportive relationship between the siblings from the very beginning. Prof Kramer said: We know from longitudinal studies that if kids start off their relationship with a sibling on a positive note, its more likely to continue positively over time. Its not all that important whether youre spaced closer together or farther apart, or if you have a brother or a sister. Whats really much more important are the social behaviours that children learn in their early years that they can use to develop a positive relationship with a sibling. Thats why its important for parents to encourage siblings to be engaged with one another and develop a relationship where there is mutual respect, cooperation and the ability to manage problems. Telegraph