Younger Siblings Are More Laid-Back, According to Study
Whether you’re the eldest, the middle child, or the baby of the family, birth order never stops being fascinating. That’s why this poll from YouGov is so interesting. For the poll, 1,783 British adults were asked to rate different aspects of their personality based on where they fall in their family order. As we previously reported, the results revealed that youngest siblings are more likely to think they are funnier than their older brothers and sisters—with 46% believing they are the funniest ones in the family—the study showed something else, too. Younger siblings may be the most laid back out of all the siblings, too.
There’s a good reason for that, too: by the time the youngest kid enters the picture, parents aren’t nervous first-timers anymore and tend to have given up their strictest rules and anxious hovering. After all, if their older children survived childhood bike accidents, Play-Doh eating, and playground misadventures, their youngest probably will as well. That means last borns usually can get away with more than their siblings did, too. "Parents are more lenient," says Catherine Salmon, Ph.D., a coauthor of The Secret Power of Middle Children told CNN after looking out the survey results. "Youngest kids tend to be less rules-oriented, yet still get lots of attention."
Their parents’ relaxed supervision tends to make youngest children turn into more laid-back adults, who are less concerned with rules, deadlines, or strict adherence to codes of conduct that others consider good manners, like when your younger brother shows up on your porch at dinner time, every night. Other studies have shown that the baby of a family tend to be more social and fun-loving and generally more creative than their older siblings.
While first-born children have, on average, a slightly higher IQ (yes, your older sister will hold that over you forever), younger siblings tend to have the creative edge, according to birth-order expert, Frank Sulloway, PhD, author of Born to Rebel. That’s partially because last-born children have to be creative in order to find their own place in a family, especially when older siblings have already staked their claim to certain behaviors and interests. Youngest siblings "are eking out alternative ways of deriving the maximum benefit out of the environment, and not directly competing for the same resources as the eldest," Sulloway told the New York Times in 2007. "They are developing diverse interests and expertise that the IQ tests do not measure." That is part of the reason that the youngest in the family is often attracted to creative jobs, such as design, architecture, writing, or art.
WATCH: The Youngest Sibling is the Funniest, According to Science
While older children may dream of growing up with less strict parents hovering over their every move, youngest children may wish they had a little more of their parents’ boundaries. "Some babies resent not being taken seriously," Linda Campbell, a professor of counseling and human development at the University of Georgia, in Athens told CNN. "They might become very responsible, like the oldest, or social, like the middle."
The biggest take away from this study is that wherever you fall in your family, you’ll most likely turn out fine—and find plenty of ways to tease your siblings either way.