Life

Are you the youngest in your family? We have good news for you…

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Kayleigh Dray
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Two siblings

Experts have revealed the surprising trait that all little brothers and sisters share.

If you’re the oldest in your family, as I am, then you no doubt spent the majority of your teenage years convinced that your little brother or sister had an easier time of it than you ever did. Think about it: their curfews were later, their punishments were far more lenient, and they were allowed to get away with murder. Other than the fact they were forced to wear all your old hand-me-downs, they had things pretty sweet. 

And now, at long last, we finally know why; it’s because they’re (apparently) funnier and more laidback than you are.

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A new YouGov study has determined that, as we’d all long suspected, our birth order really does shape our personalities.

To get to this conclusion, researchers spoke to 1,783 British adult siblings and asked them to rate their personality traits alongside those of their brothers and sisters. The results, somewhat annoyingly, almost entirely conformed to stereotypes; the oldest child tends to feel a bigger sense of responsibility, and is far more family-orientated. The youngest, meanwhile, is totally chilled and absolutely hilarious.

We blame mum and dad for this; they were always demanding that big sis always set a “good example” for her little sis, weren’t they?

Researchers explained: “The most significant difference is in feeling the burden of responsibility – most (54%) first borns say they are more responsible than their siblings, compared to 31% of last borns.

“Younger siblings, on the other hand, are more likely to say they are more funny (46% compared to 36% of elder siblings), more easy going and more relaxed.”

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They added that this is down to the undeniable “family forces at work”, stressing the fact that “parental attention soon shifts onto new arrivals, and first borns may have to learn the ropes themselves”.

Researchers concluded that, as a result of being asked to ‘keep an eye’ on their baby bro or sis (not to mention a teeny bit side-lined by the new arrival), “elder siblings are more likely to feel more organised and able to prioritise their own lives. Likewise, younger siblings are more likely to feel more favoured by their parents.”

Or, to put it in layman’s terms, everyone loves to spoil the baby of the family.

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However we do have some good news for big sisters everywhere.

Researchers at the University of Illinois used a sample of 377,000 schoolchildren and found that we (yes, WE!) tend to have higher IQs. So at least we have our smarts...

Top 5 ways your younger sibling had it easier than you

Note: none of the following are inspired by personal experience – my little sister is obviously a saint and has never done me wrong. Ever… 

They were never the on-call babysitter / tutor

We get it, mum and dad – why spend money on a babysitter when good old big sis can stay in and do it for free? And there’s nothing more fun than going through someone’s maths homework with them when you want to be watching TV…

Curfews went out the window when they came along

You always had to be home by 10pm on the dot, didn’t you? So how is it that the baby of the family could stay out until LITERALLY* the end of time? It’s because your parents were too tired to argue by this point. They’d wasted all their energies on fighting with you and they couldn’t be bothered to do it all over again. Injustice at its finest, if you ask us…

They never had to set a good example for anyone

…it’s so boring being the responsible role model, isn’t it?

They were never to blame for the big sibling fights

“You should know better than to hit your little sister,” said every parent ever – without ever asking what the little monster had done to deserve it. Like maybe she had, say, hidden a tanning wipe amongst your facial wipes and turned your face actual Donald Trump orange…

They never had a little brother or sister to SHAME them on a daily basis

It doesn’t matter if it’s your best friend, the person your crushing on, or your partner; you can always count on your little brother or sister to CASUALLY drop an embarrassing story about you into conversation for no reason.

BONUS POINT: They were never approached by the Goblin King and challenged to a race through the Labyrinth

On second thoughts, scrap that one. Maybe it’s a tad too specific…

Image: Ana Francisconi

This article was originally published in December 2016.

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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