Sibling Rivalry At Its Best: New Study Claims Youngest Child Is The Favourite

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If you are the youngest child in your family listen up because a new study has found that the youngest child is most likely to be the parents’ favorite child.

If you have a sibling or siblings then you’ll know well that sibling rivalry is alive and well in every household.

Many would assume that the firstborn would be parents’ favorite because let’s be honest children born first hold their parents’ adoration first.


However, in actual fact, it all comes down to perceived favoritism according to researchers from Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life.

Much like the saying beauty is in the eye of the beholder, well so too is favoritism it seems.

The research claims that younger siblings are most likely to compare themselves to their older siblings. According to Alex Jensen of Brigham Young University School of Family Life, brothers and sisters often think differently.

“It’s not that first-borns don’t ever think about their siblings and themselves in reference to them. It’s just not as active of a part of their daily life,” he says.

Apparently, if the youngest child thinks of themselves as the favourite, the parent-child relationship is strengthened, however, if they don’t the opposite happens. Whereas whether or not the oldest sibling thinks like this, it has less of an effect on their relationship with their parents.

Jensen says, “My guess is it’s probably rarer that parents will say to an older sibling, ‘Why can’t you be more like your younger sibling?’ It’s more likely to happen the other way around.”

This research has a lot to do with social comparison and was conducted after studying 300 families each with two teenage children.

The families were asked various questions to ascertain the levels of favoritism in the household. The children were simply asked to describe their relationship with their parents, while the parents were asked how much warmth and conflict they have with their children.

Interestingly, the study found that children had more warmth and more conflict with their mothers; however, the rates of change in relationship for both parents were similar.
Considering that not all families consist of two children, Jensen believes that if carried out on larger families the results would be similar.

“If you had to ask me, ‘Do we see the same thing with the second born and third born?’ I think probably so. The youngest kid looks up to everybody, the next youngest kid looks up to everyone older than them, and it just kind of goes up the line,” he says.

One would think that the best approach to dealing with children is to treat them all equally but Jensen has a slightly different opinion on the matter, after all each individual child has different needs and it’s important for parents to be aware of that.

“When parents are more loving and they’re more supportive and consistent with all of the kids, the favoritism tends to not matter as much. Some parents feel like ‘I need to treat them the same. What I would say is ‘No you need to treat them fairly, but not equally.’ If you focus on it being okay to treat them differently because they’re different people and have different needs, that’s OK,” Jensen explains.

Children become more aware of social situations as they get older, and younger siblings especially learn that they can get away with more than their older counterpart.

Parents tend to side with the baby of the family for many reasons, youngest siblings can be needy and warrant more attention, whereas older siblings tend to get on with things as they get older.

Each individual family is different. If you think back to when you were growing up; chances are you will remember different situations where sibling rivalry was evident.

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