If you have more than one child you might have noticed that your first-born seems a little more… switched on than your other kids.
Turns out there’s a reason for this, backed up by science: they’re smarter.
Yes, your other kids might be your little babies, but it’s your firstborn that takes the cake when it comes to cleverness. Not only do first-borns tend to have higher IQs, they’re just more likely overall to succeed in life. That means more likely to get a leading role in a play, be the captain of the team, be a successful business person, get a great job. Sucks to be a younger sibling, right?
What’s Up With First Borns?
Well actually the science minds behind this revelation are a little divided on that. Some think that it’s all to do with birth order. That is if you’re the first born you’ve got the golden brick road ahead of you, with people waiting to do your bidding (or something like that). Others think that it has more to do with the circumstances of your childhood. That is, even if you aren’t a first born, if you’re raised as the eldest child you’ll end up with all the same benefits. Bonus!
So Why Are They Smarter?
Everyone has an idea about why first borns might be smarter than their siblings, and the more studies that are done on the topic the more we’ll know. But for now all we can do is compile the various theories of great minds around the world (who are likely first borns themselves).
Parents Have More Time
Yes it’s hard to accept but if you aren’t a first born it’s pretty likely that once your parents got to you they were totally over this whole ‘parenting journey‘. Some scientists suspect that first-time parents, and therefore their first children, are more focused on achieving milestones and learning new skills. Ok, this might not be exactly true. Officially this is called equity heuristic, which basically means that parents want to spend time with each child equally, but as they have more children, there’s just less time available.
The Home Is Smarter
This theory actually came around in the 70s, and it’s called the confluence theory. It’s based on the idea that a child’s intelligence increases in line with what scientists call the ‘intellectual culture’ of a home. That is, if you treat your kid like a little adult, maturity and intelligence comes out of it. The problem is that the more kids there are in the picture, the less intelligent the household is, and the lesser parents treat kids like little adults.
First In Best Dressed
This theory is known by scientists as the evolutionary argument. Essentially it suggests that in a family kids are fighting for attention, and evolution has them do this by establishing a niche for themselves where they can be the most successful. So your kids might be good at sport, an accomplished artist etc. Where first borns get the win is that they can establish themselves in a niche before there’s anyone around to challenge them. Unfair!
The saddest of all theories about first born smarts is called the divorce theory. You probably already know where we’re going with this, but basically this theory claims that family trauma can cause serious upheaval in the lives of children, which in turn has an effect on their dedication and focus on learning. However, as family breakdowns tend to happen when the first born has already enjoyed the benefits of a connected family for years, they’re better off.
They’re Little Teachers
This is our favourite theory in the bunch, the one that makes us warm and fuzzy inside. It’s also a popular opinion amongst those clever clogs we call scientists. Basically it says that teaching is really the key to understanding something. So, when older siblings teach younger siblings something they aren’t just passing on their older sibling wisdom, they’re learning it better themselves. But those little brothers and sisters don’t get a chance to teach anyone, so they’re missing out on the benefits. Well, it’s still nice.
So, now that you’ve heard the theory, we want to hear yours.