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09th Oct 2019

Research says that the second-born child is often the worst-behaved

Still feeling broody for another one, mama?

Trine Jensen-Burke

Suspect that your second-born child is a bit of wild card compared to your placid baby #1?

Chances are you are not imagining it.

According to a report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, second-born boys are more likely than first-borns to behave badly (which can also explain why you always felt like your little brother was a demon spawn!)

The study, which followed thousands of sibling pairs both Denmark and Florida, interestingly found second-born boys were 20-40 percent more likely to have behavioural issues. Oh, and it doesn’t even end there. Second-borns are also more likely to be disciplined in school, and even to end up in the criminal justice system than their older siblings.

Still dreaming of adding another babe to your brood there…?

Don’t give up on your dreams yet, there is still hope – you just have to put some effort in. The researchers behind the study theorised that the reason second-born siblings may be worse behaved than first-borns is because parents tend to pay less attention to them.

“We consider differences in parental attention as a potential contributing factor to the gaps in delinquency across the birth order,” the report states. “Second-born children tend to have less maternal attention than do their older siblings because first-born children experience their mother’s maternity leaves and temporarily reduced labour market participation both following their own births as well as following the birth of the second-born.”

Oh, and older siblings might be partly to blame too – in a way.

“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,” Joseph Doyle, one of the report authors, told NPR. “Both the parental investments are different, and the sibling influences probably contribute to these differences we see in the 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.”