The debate about the correlation between the birth order and I.Q. has been going on for years. Research shows that the eldest child in the family, when compared to the youngest, tends to score slightly higher on intelligence, temperament and behavior. Literature further states that the first-born child is more dutiful and responsible whereas, the youngest one tends to be stubborn and aggressive. More so, it is popular belief that all obligations, duties and responsibilities of the family are meant for the eldest child in the family. The youngest, being an apple of everyone’s eye, on the other hand, enjoys extra freedom and laxity. My experience tells me otherwise!
It is essential to understand that the child’s traits can be influenced by family’s cultural values, parenting styles, and their environment. For example, when my siblings got married, I was only sixteen and I was reminded constantly by them that I have to look after my parents when they are gone. Therefore, when they left, I would take care of my parent’s everyday needs, their health and medicines. I also started spending more time with them. They were astonished to see how easily I took up my elder sibling’s role at such a small age. I enjoyed their praises, prayers and blessings in return. Therefore, parental recognition of the child’s persistent efforts can strengthen the trait, making them more determined and responsible over the course of their childhood.
First-borns are usually designated as role models for the younger one to follow. Negative connotations like being dependent, demanding, stubborn, pampered, and rebellious are frequently given to younger siblings. But according to my experience youngest child is the most understanding and sensible. When I was young, my father had a terrible business debacle, due to which we had to face a major financial setback in our lives. During that same period my siblings got married and had to leave the home town for good. Being the youngest child in the family, I made sure to understand my parents’ and my family’s circumstances. I was too young to solve their problems but all I knew was that even sitting beside them and listening to them would give them support. I even started working part-time as a tutor on my off-days in order to supplement family income.
*Theories exist that since the eldest child receives parents’ undivided attention in childhood compared to younger one they tend to be more groomed and polished. However, I believe, the younger one is at a greater advantage. The younger sibling benefits from the maturity and experience of both the parents and the older sibling. I am the youngest child in my family. My elder siblings are very disciplined and responsible. By spending my whole childhood under their shadow I also possess these traits within myself. For example, when I was in 5th grade, I would always forget my water bottle at school. One morning, before I left for school my mother made sure to remind me that I should bring all my valuables back home. I again forgot the water bottle at school and she told me to stand outside at the gate till I get the water bottle back from school. We both knew it was impossible for me to go but I did not utter a word. This was her way of teaching me how to take care of my valuables. The only reason I stood outside in sun that afternoon was because I have seen my brother doing everything what my mother told him to. He never argued with my mother even at the time when my mother perceived things differently than they actually were.
Moreover, I also got a chance to observe my siblings committing errors in their lives and also experiencing its terrible consequences. I learnt from my sibling’s mistakes and experiences, as I can't possibly live long enough to make them all myself. For example, Four years back in 2010, I was told by my school to choose O level subjects. Before choosing humanities as a major, I thought about what interests me as well as what am I looking forward to pursue as a profession. In addition to this, I also attended many counseling workshops to make sure that I make the right choice. Unlike my sister, who chose sciences as her major and was absolutely unsure about what she always wanted to pursue. The only reason she chose sciences was because her friends were choosing it. I was able to prevent myself from falling into the same pits and take wise decisions for myself which helped me become a better person.
My brother is 11 years elder than me and my sister is 9 years elder than me. I was always pampered by my siblings and parents but due to the age difference I also received less attention from everyone. This was because my siblings were at critical stages of their education and my parents were on the grind to support our living. This phase of life made me more flexible and understanding. I learned to spend some quality time with my own self. I even witnessed my elders’ tantrums and frustrations at certain instances but as I knew they are going through a lot, I always tried to love them in return and make them feel better. This enriched empathy and consideration in my overall personality.
In conclusion, youngest children are more sensible and flexible. Also, every child’s trait might evolve with time. Hence, as the child grows, he learns to interact with his family and his environment, subsequently the gradual shift in behavior occurs. Therefore, it is not the birth order that is central, but the family’s cultural values, parenting styles, and their environment that plays the significant role in molding a child’s behavior and personality
Picture taken from : Lifetime Adoption