This Study Says Your Second Child Is a Handful

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Do you have a second child? Research out of MIT says your second child is the kiddo who might give you the most trouble.

We’ve talked about birth order before and how it does (or doesn’t) hold up in real life. Is there any truth to the idea that where you’re born in the family might determine some bad behaviors as an adult? (Speaking of bad behaviors, have you ever wondered whether eating boogers could hurt your child? Here’s the answer to all your booger questions.

This Study Says Your Second Child Is a Handful

Keep Your Eye On the Second Child!

Because I’m a nut, I dove into this 50-page research paper about the behavior of a second child. I caution you not to do it unless you need a nap or you don’t have a headache that’s quite as throbbing as you think it should be.

I suffer for the knowledge so that you don’t have to. (Just don’t come looking for me to explain algebra.)

Whenever I take a look at research like this, I worry that some people will be so discouraged by it that they’ll worry there is nothing they can do to help foster good outcomes for their children. The truth is that writing a research paper doesn’t make you right. Take the knowledge they offer, make adjustments you believe would be beneficial to your parenting, and simply continue doing your best.

Here’s what you might want to know about a second child

In the early 1900s, a student of Freud came up with the whole “birth order” theory. To put it simply, it means that the position a person is born into a family, (1st, 2nd, middle, oldest, etc) has an effect on their personality.

It’s believed that it could be at least one of many possible reasons two siblings raised the same way to the same parents can be so different.

Before you decide your second child is bound and determined to be up to no good, consider this…

Kids born as the second child in the family are often the funniest, and most independent. The first child endured the learning curve from parents.

By the 2nd baby, parents are a little more easygoing. Mom might put the 2nd child in a crib and let them cry in order to teach them good sleep habits.

But, the first child? It’s entirely possible someone held that baby no less than 10 hours a day. The baby books are all filled out in detail. The mountain of baby clothes that are cute but not at all functional cost a small fortune.

The 1st baby looks like a Gerber baby model.

The second child’s blank baby book and hand-me-down clothes serve as a sad reminder that moms and dads are exhausted.

Personally, I like to think that by the 2nd baby, parents have figured out what’s important and what isn’t.

Directly from the MIT study: 

Second-born boys are 1.6 percentage-points more likely to have been found convicted of a crime when aged 15 or 16 compared to first-borns. This is 35 percent higher than first-born boys. By age 21, the estimate suggests a 3.6 percentage-point increase, or 22 percent higher than the mean for first-born boys.

Second-born boys are substantially more likely to exhibit delinquency problems compared to their older sibling.

What about girls, you ask? The research talks about boys for the most part, but girls can exhibit the same behaviors.

What should you do?

1. Take the study with a grain of salt. There is always new research on the horizon. For all we know, the second child might turn out to be the one who cures cancer or gets a perfect score on the SATs.
2. Spend time alone with each of your children. Build up their self-esteem and their desire to make good choices.
3. Spread the love and acceptance. Kids need to know you are always available to talk and problem solve together.

In closing, what do you think of all these birth order studies? Do you believe them? Have you noticed any similarities to your own kids or to your adult siblings?

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18 comments on “This Study Says Your Second Child Is a Handful”

  1. I have 3 boys and a girl and none of them where trouble makers maybe a couple head strong but very polite and respectful and great students maybe the problem with trouble makers are the parents not spending time with them or treating them equliy with other siblings. most parents these days want to be their friends not parents and lets them get by with every thing.

  2. Larry Collins

    We have 3 sons and the middle doesn’t fit this model at all.  The 1st was a model
    child in every way and brilliant. The 2nd was sweet, loving, smart and easy going. The 3rd was strong willed, head strong and an amazing athlete.  None of them ever got in trouble. I was involved in their lives constantly and they were in church every Sunday. All three are fine young men and the joy of our old age.  
    Most of these studies are superficial and worthless. They look at too few variables and don’t cross tabulate the data. (my MBA is in statistics).

  3. You didn’t mention how gender of the child comes into play. I’ve seen when the second child is a different gender than the first, this doesn’t apply. The problem is when the second child is the same as the first. 

  4. I’m a 2nd child (girl) and yes, I was a problem growing up with 3 brothers. They got all the attention so I thought the only way for me was to get into trouble – not with the law, just the wrong crowd. I am now living far away from the family and am doing okay. I just needed to do things on my own. I am very independant.

  5. Yep, i have 3 second born grandsons & while i love them dearly & i am blessed to have them they wee little terrors when they were little. Have one great-granddaughter that is the 2nd child & her parents call her their demon child.

  6. Children are affected by birth order because there are more people in their family creating more interactions. And yes parents are a tad less stressed when raising a second or third child. But they also benefit from older, wiser and usually more financially stable parents. As parents you must acknowledge that you are not the only influence in the moral/psychological up-bringing of that child. This doesn’t even discuss cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, or friends.

  7. Michelle hansen

    I’m theiddle child and yes I believe n middle children r more independent because the first one got all attention and second one parents had knowledge of parenting and the last baby is giving alot more attention because parents want to dote and hold on to their last baby

  8. Christina Dronen

    What’s that SMELL? OH it’s the smell of death to my HOPE that my 2nd born is going to “grow out of it.” ( sounds of weeping)

  9. Suzanne Rose

    According tony children your information is all off! First born was a trial at birth. Second child was calm, never did anything thing wrong (as far as I knew, but never disrupted the family) Third child was good until he hit 13, like a switch was turned on, then all hell broke loose.  However, they all grew to be wonderful sons, fathers and citizens, we couldn’t be prouder.!

  10. Ingrid Delamorandiere

    I have 6 syblings. I am the oldest girl and am third child born. Based on my own experience growing up in a large family, I somewhat agree with this theory of birth order . However there are alot more situations that are involved in creating a person’s character. None of us are cookie cutter shaped.