A recent study finally dispels some of the stereotyping associated with the order of birth amongst siblings. The long-associated belief that the youngest member is the ‘baby’ of the family, while the middle one tends to get ignored might be debatable. But the fact that the oldest is probably the wisest has been given a backing by science, says a recent study.
The study states a definitive advantage for the older sibling
The study published in the Journal of Human Resources has found firstborn children to be more geared towards to academic and intellectual success. Evidence suggests that firstborn babies gain an advantage startlingly early as they tend to score better on cognitive tests, more so than their younger siblings. This is most likely due to a shift in parenting that occurs after giving birth to your first child states the research.
The reason seems to be quite rational
First-time parents that attempt to get everything right on their first attempt of conceiving a child are more conscious and make more of an effort in their interactions with their first-born. They tend to relax with each subsequent child as they begin to distill what they deem as non-essential needs for them, claims co-author Jee-Yeon K. Lehmann, and economist at the Analysis Group in Boston, in an interview to TODAY.COM.
The more limitations families face due to a lack of time, resources and attention they can depart to their children, the more change you tend to notice regarding their behaviour towards them consciously or not, added Lehmann.
And why does this happen?
Although parents depart the same amount of love and care to all their children, firstborns get more mental stimulation. Their families are not able to keep up subsequent levels of stimulation for kids born later on revealed the study. For instance, parents spent less time reading to them or providing them with engaging activities or toys.
How severe is the impact?
There was a sizeable impact on the thinking skills of children affecting them well into their adult years, as mentioned before, with late-born children scoring worse on cognitive assessments. This coincides with previous studies that found children born later on have lower IQ levels and make comparatively less money than their older siblings. What’s worse is that they were also shown to complete fewer years of education and had a greater chance of being convicted of a crime.
In fact, Lehmann and her team discovered that this didn’t have any impact on a child’s temperament or personality, but did make the firstborns more confident about themselves.
The flaws in parenting need to be addressed
There was a tendency of expectant mums to increase their level of alcohol consumption during their subsequent pregnancies. The fact that they sought out prenatal care less and were less likely to breastfeed their child other than the briefly during the initial phase suggested a clear shit in their parental attitudes towards later born children, noted the study.
The fact remains that the kind of investments you make with your children in the formative years of their life matter significantly. The learning activities that you undertook with your first child as an excited, very involved, and over-zealous parent goes a long way in impacting the development of your other children as well, claims Lehmann.
On a positive note, the one advantage the researchers did find later-born kids had was the fact that they are healthier at birth.
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