Birth Order and School Achievement

Topics: Birth order, Sibling, High school Pages: 5 (1767 words) Published: March 10, 2005
Birth order and School Achievement
There has always been an attempt to figure out why some people do better in school than others. Is it due to financial stability? Is it attributed to parents' own success as students? Very importantly, one's birth order plays a role in one's school achievement. I. Theory

Growing up with siblings or the absence of siblings can be a major factor in determining academic success. Being the oldest, middle or youngest child does not necessarily determine academic success concretely without exception, but serves as a predictor of future academic success. School achievement is gauged by how far one goes in his or her education, starting from grade school, all the way up to graduate school. Before getting into the developmental stages across the life span and in the interest of time, I will only be discussing birth order in terms of the oldest child, middle child, youngest child and only child because configurations of five or more children occur only in 10% of the families with children. The average family in the U.S. has three (Toman, 1976). Also, I will be dividing the developmental stages into 3 stages: childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Childhood (Ages 1-12)

The firstborn child is likely to have intensified feelings of power and superiority, high anxiety, and overprotective tendencies (Feist & Feist, 2002). The firstborn children usually have a close relationship with the parents than laterborn children. The child has the experience of having his or her parents to him or herself and tends to feel like a rather important individual (Forer, 1969). For a while, these children are only children until a younger brother or sister is born. They experience a traumatic dethronement, which may development resentment towards the new baby. During this time in their life, firstborns may be jealous and want to seek mother and father's affection. When it comes to school, in grade school, these children will try to seek attention by being a class clown or a rebellious child. Education itself may not be of interest to them. Report cards may show poor grades and unsatisfactory behavior. This makes sense because before the younger siblings were born, the firstborn child was anxiously awaited. Parents are so proud of the firstborn as their "pride and joy."

The middle child or secondborn child's personality is shaped by their perception of the older child's attitude toward them (Feist & Feist, 2002). If the firstborn is hostile toward the secondborn child, he or she may become highly competitive or overly discouraged. I believe that since the middle child never has the opportunity to experience being an only child, he or she odes not lose the position of being younger than another child in the family but rather grains the advantage or being older than one or more. They may become competitive in school because they want to earn recognition from their parents. They do not get that much attention due the attention spent on older brother or sister, or younger brother and sister, so excelling in school may get them the attention they crave. They may bring home a piece of homework and show their parents that they did well in order to receive acclamation.

The youngest child is popularly known as the "spoiled brat." He or she is pampered excessively and is disciplined less than his or her older siblings. During this stage, the youngest child may want to model everything his or her older siblings are doing. In turn, this may make them less independent in school and more reliant on someone to help them. To get what they want, screaming and tattling are their special kinds of manipulative skills (Forer, 1969). A youngest child may have parents who have climbed the salary ladder and therefore he or she may benefit from financial means.

The only child, with the lack of siblings may compete against his or her father and mother. They more often than not develop an exaggerated...

References: Feist, G.J., & Feist, J. (2002). Theories of Personality (5th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Forer, L.K. (1969). Birth Order and Life Roles. Springfield, Illinois, U.S.A.: Charles C.
Thomas Publisher.
Toman, W. (1976). Family Constellation (3rd ed.). New York: Springer Publishing
Company, Inc.
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