I bet a lot of parents are feeling pretty vindicated by these findings. It explains so much.
Sometimes we look at our two kids and wonder how they even came from the same parents.
They were raised in the same environment, with the same beliefs, and the same opportunities, so why does the second child seem so interested in challenging us?
Turns out, birth order makes a difference.
While you may have thought that becoming a parent was hard enough the first time around, your second child will really test you.
MIT had its curiosity piqued
A team of researchers at MIT’s Sloan School studied families with two boys in Denmark and Florida.
Between these groups, they found some interesting behavioral differences between the older brother and the younger brother.
So, if you’ve ever thought that your oldest child was an angel and your younger child was born to test you, this research might explain why and give you some interesting solutions.
They’ll get disciplined.
Your second child will most likely spend more time in the principal’s office.
In the same MIT study, researchers found that the second child was 20-40% more likely to be disciplined at school, compared to your first child.
Interestingly, this child in the birth order is also more likely to experience problems with the law and the criminal justice system.
Daughters may be a different story.
These findings were based on comparison with first-born boys, so if you have an elder daughter, this likelihood may not be the case.
Parents may play a role too.
One reason why these differences happen might have to do with you, parents.
It’s never as simple as birth order giving us personality types. Turns out, that parents may behave differently with children in different birth orders.
The researchers say this:
“The data allow us to examine a range of potential mechanisms, and the evidence rules out differences in health at birth and the quality of schools chosen for children. We do find that parental time investment measured by time out of the labor force is higher for first-borns at ages 2-4, suggesting that the arrival of a second-born child extends early-childhood parental investments for first-borns.”
That means that parents might be more likely to encourage the beneficial early-childhood period more for their oldest child than for their second born.
Pay attention to the early years.
It’s been well-established that the first 6 years of a person’s life are essential to laying the groundwork for their future.
In this time period, children have the potential to learn more and faster than at any other point in their lives, develop positive mindsets, and can make themselves physically healthier.
The role that parents play at this time is crucial. Children learn how to form healthy relationships by watching their parents and receiving their undivided attention.
Second-born children often don’t get the same attention paid to them, because there is another, older child in the mix who also still needs a lot of attention.
Solutions may be on the horizon.
But don’t despair, the researchers say that their work has made them interested in the potential of one solution.
Of course, no parent wants one child to be more annoying than the other, and you definitely don’t want either child to break the law.
Fortunately, the authors of this study say that their research has shown a potential fix for this.
“Our findings that birth order appears to influence the likelihood of delinquency among boys, and that differences begin to appear early, suggests potentially fruitful avenues for monitoring and interventions. Our findings regarding systematically different dosages of early-childhood parental attention as a plausible mechanism also engender further discussion of parental leave as a long-run social benefit.”
Every family is different.
And all kids have different needs, but it’s never a bad thing to schedule more quality time with your little guys.
The kids in this study who experienced severe punishment and behavioral issues were in the overall minority, although the data did skew towards the second-born child.
So, even if your second child is a pain in your backside sometimes, the likelihood of them going to jail is still pretty low.
That being said, spend more time with your kids.
They grow up fast and it’s is always a good thing to take advantage of the time you have with them.