A loving brother or sister who can motivate good behavior may guard youngsters from delinquency and depression, says a new study published in the Journal of Family Psychology.

Encouraging behavioral traits like kindness and generosity by a loving sibling were seen to foster charitable acts more than parents did. Influence of loving siblings is twice as strong as parents when it comes to good behavior such as being nice to people, volunteering, and helping others, the study says.

"Siblings matter even more than parents do in terms of promoting being kind to others and being generous," says Laura Padilla-Walker, an assistant professor in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University, who authored the study.

Researchers at the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University studied 395 Seattle families with two more children, including at least one child aged between 10 and 14 to reach this conclusion.

Among siblings, having a sister seemed more beneficial than having a brother, the study revealed while suggesting that this was a result of the well-documented traits of women who adopt a care giving or listening role.

Having a sister protected adolescents from feeling lonely, unloved, guilty, self-conscious and fearful. It didn't matter whether the sister was younger or older, or how far apart the siblings were age wise, statistical analyses showed.

It doesn't mean that brothers are of no help. The study found that having a loving sibling of either gender promoted good deeds, such as helping a neighbor or watching out for other kids at school. "For parents of younger kids, the message is to encourage sibling affection. Once they get to adolescence, it's going to be a big protective factor,” Padilla-Walker.