The term ‘middle child syndrome’ has been thrown around a lot over the years but it now looks like there’s some truth behind it, as a new study reveals that second kids are the most likely to be the most ‘troublesome’.
According to new research from MIT, second-born children are more likely to challenge authority, get in trouble with the law and be less rational than their older sibling.
Is this the case in your family?
Study finds second children are the more likely to ‘troublemakers’
Scientists studied family groups of people in Denmark and Florida and found that their results were “remarkably similar across the two locations.”
Taking into account “measures of infant and childhood health, parental investments, school quality and sibling composition”, researchers found that second-born children, mainly second born boys, are 20% to 40% more likely to be disciplined at school.
“While [first-borns have] undivided attention until the arrival of the second-born, these results show that the arrival of the second-born child has the potential to extend the early-childhood parental investment in the first-born child and a concomitant bifurcation of parental attention between first- and second-born children,” says notes from the study.
Why are second-born children more likely to ‘play up’?
What’s more, in an interview NPR, study co-author Joseph Doyle said: “I find the results to be remarkable that the second-born children, compared to their older siblings, are much more likely to end up in prison, much more likely to get suspended in school, enter juvenile delinquency.
“Across all these outcomes, we’re getting 25% to 40% increases in the likelihood of these outcomes just by comparing a second-born sibling compared to a first-born.”
So why is this? Doyle believes it comes down to role models.
“The firstborn has role models, who are adults. And the second, later-born children have role models who are slightly irrational 2-year-olds, you know, their older siblings,” he says.
“Both the parental investments are different, and the sibling influences probably contribute to these differences we see in labor market and what we find in delinquency. It’s just very difficult to separate those two things because they happen at the same time.”
But it’s not all bad news for second-born children! In fact, previous studies have suggested that second-born children have so many amazing qualities. They often end up being great negotiators, forming stronger friendship groups, are more resilient and also more driven.
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