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Second-born kids at disadvantage in life because of their birth order
2017-07-25 10:36:31
Michael Fox

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Photo by: David Trounce via Pexels

There are a lot of anecdotes as well as some studies that say the birth order of a child has a lot of influence on the person's character and even future success.First-borns are generally considered leaders, the middle child is competitive and adaptable, while the youngest are often spoiled.

Psychology Today confirmed that the impact of birth order is on the child's emotions, behavior, and personality development.A lot of company heads and presidents are first-borns because as a child, the baby received undivided love and attention for sometime and benefitted from the experience.The feeling of love, coupled with a sense of security and self-confidence, helps the child go out into the world and develop into a responsible leader when the child becomes an adult.

It is different when it comes to the second-born child.Although the kid benefits from parents who become more self-confident in raising their second baby, there is often jealousy because the older brother or sister is always first in accomplishing new firsts.He or she is also often bossed around and criticized by the elder sibling.

Impact of birth order on delinquency

A new study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technolgy looked into the impact of birth order on delinquency, particularly disciplinary problems in school, adult crime, and juvenile delinquency.Educational attainment had long been linked to birth order, but it is the first time that delinquency outcomes were studied and linked to order of birth, using data from Denmark and Florida.

Now, for the bad news for parents and second-born children.Joseph Doyle, an economist from MIT, said that after his team compared the data of thousands of sets of brothers in Europe and the US, they discovered that boys who were born second have 20 to 40 percent chances of getting into trouble as kids and adults.As students, they get more suspensions and disciplinary sanctions in school than those born first , later, or last.Their chances of being arrested and jailed are higher compared to their older siblings, Reader's Digest reported.

The study explained that parenting style has an impact on the difference on how the first-born kids and second-born children behave.The power of role models also influences the behavior of the second-born.In the case of the first-born child, the kid has adults as role models, while among second-born children, it would often be older siblings who are just one or two years older than them and still act irrationally.

No need to panic over the study

Parents who have second kids, however, should not panic over the result of the new MIT study.What to Expect assured moms and dads with second kids that the child -- who is often rebellious -- is not doomed to live an incarcerated life.The study only provides a wide perspective of human behavior.It is not a life blueprint or prediction of what would happen when the child becomes an adult.

"This research, of course, is painting a broad picture.It doesn't describe what's happening in every single family," Shankar Vendatam of NPR said.The number of second-borns who ended up in jail were only a minority within the total group of American and Danish kids the researchers studied.

Scary Mommy did not recommend giving the second boy the side-eye.To help the second-born understand why his older brother is achieving something he could not do yet, Psychology Today recommended that the parent must explain to the second child he cannot do the same things as his older brother or sister does because he is younger.For example, if the older sibling could already ride a two-wheel bike, tell the second kid that when the older sibling was his age, he or she could not ride yet a two-wheel bike because his legs then were shorter, but it would become longer after a year or two, and he could also ride a two-wheel bike.

What second-born kids are not

Although the MIT study discovered higher chances of the second kid getting into trouble in school and at work, the research also found good things among second children in general.There is no evidence they are less healthy or parents invest less in the education of their second child.However, they get lesser attention from their mothers compared to their older sibling.First-borns also often receive an extended early-childhood parental investment with the birth of a second sibling.

The authors said that the results of the study provide important implications for social policy.Because of the high social cost of crime, delinquency, and imprisonment and its link to huge losses in human potential, the findings suggest early opportunities for monitoring and intervention.The findings on the different dosages of parental attention during early childhood also warrant more discussions on parental leave as a long-run social benefit.It is timely that several countries are pushing for longer maternity leaves and have also started to grant paternity leaves.


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