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Second Children… Are They More Mellow than First-Borns?

Are second-born children more mellow than first-borns?  The answer is that it depends on multiple variables.  Read on for more information.

If “mellow” is defined as lacking in energy and being sedentary, then second-born children, anecdotally, do not seem to be significantly more or less mellow relative to their first-born siblings.  Second-born children may be athletic, prefer physical to intellectual work and recreation, and watch as much or as little television as their older siblings.

If “mellow” is defined as not having such a strongly Type A personality (Type A is defined as a driven, leadership-oriented, time-oriented personality), then birth-order psychology suggests that second children are often (but not always) more mellow than first-borns.   However, if the second child is of the opposite gender relative to the first-born child, then both children may be equally Type A.  Also, if there is a third (or more) child(ren), and there is a significant age gap between the first-, second-, and third-born children, the second child may behave more like a first-born.  According to birth order psychology, the driver of these distinctions is the role that these children play in the lives of their siblings and the expectations that the parents have for their children.  For example, if the first-born and second-born are of opposite genders, and there are three additional, younger siblings, both first- and second-born may be equally Type A as both may be equally responsible for setting an example for and taking care of their younger siblings and their household:  the male first- or second-born child may assume traditionally male roles in supporting the family (i.e., mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, etc.) whereas the female first- or second born child may assume traditionally female roles in supporting the family (i.e., changing diapers, comforting a crying younger sibling, etc.).  Another example:  if the parents rigidly enforce household rules in rearing their first-born, setting expectations high, and spending large amounts of time developing the first-born’s skill sets, but become more laid-back in their parenting style by the time that the second child is born, then the second-born child will likely be more mellow than the first-born child.

With all that said, the subject of nature versus nurture in human psychological development is still hotly debated among learned professional and parents alike.  How much of personality is a child born with (nature), and how much of personality is driven by the child’s life experiences (nurture)?  Most parents will attest to their strongly held belief that some personality traits are inborn.  In what way, and to what degree, genetics play a role in the development of thoughts and behaviors is a matter of ongoing scientific study.

Nonetheless, birth order psychology plays out, time and time again, in families all over the globe.  Certainly there are exceptions, and genetic variances among siblings may (or may not) explain these.

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