Got 2 Boys? Study Confirms your Second Born is Likely to be a Real Sh*t Stirrer

Blessed with two amazing boys? Congrats!! There is nothing quite like the bonds between brothers. But one thing you might notice is that your second born is, well, blessed with a whole heck of a lot of cheek and sass?

You’re not imagining it! Science confirms that, yep, second-born children, especially boys, are a pain in the neck to raise. 

Second born sh*t stirrers

According to a team of researchers at MIT’s Sloan School, fronted by MIT economist, Joseph Doyle, second-born children are indeed more likely to be rebellious little so-and-so’s. And that goes double for second-born boys. 

second born trouble makers
Source: Bigstock

The study focused on families with two boys in Denmark and Florida.

Here’s what they discovered: 

In families with two or more children, second born boys are on the order of 20 to 40 percent more likely to be disciplined in school and enter the criminal justice system compared to first-born boys even when we compare siblings.

The data allow us to examine a range of potential mechanisms, and the evidence rules out differences in health at birth and the quality of schools chosen for children.”

Interestingly enough, the results didn’t factor in girls so we’re not sure whether it’s just a boy thing or not. 

The family trouble makers

But it’s not all bad news. Although Doyle does make a suggestion that parents often don’t spend as much quality time with their second-born child as their first (enter the Guilt Fairy), he also places the blame on big bro.

He writes, 

The firstborn has role models, who are adults. And the second, later-born children have role models who are slightly irrational two-year-olds, you know, their older siblings.”

So don’t stress, mums. When your son comes home from daycare with a letter reminding him that “we don’t bite people,” you can blame your oldest child. The same goes for when he “accidentally” pees in the neighbour’s garden, uses a Sharpie pen to ‘paint’ the dog blue, and takes off all his clothes in aisle 3 of Woolworths. 


I have to admit that my eldest (12) has influenced my youngest a fair bit too. Mostly in good ways. But not always. Yesterday my youngest, at the tender age of 3, told me clear as day, to “shut the fucking door”. Three guesses where she picked up that word.  

But it’s not all bad news ladies and gents. There is SOOO much goodness about the brotherly bond. The occasional rowdy, rebelliousness is just part of the fun.

mum central
You can’t ignore the brotherly bond. Source: Bigstock

Plus, the second-born child brings a whole new dimension of fun to the household. They are sweet and loving and kind and cheeky! You’re also most likely less of a stress-head (after all, you’ve managed to handle the first one so far), and have probably given up on the idea of being a ‘perfect parent’. 

And remember, there is so much that impacts a child’s personality. Although many experts swear that a child’s temperament is shaped by the birth order (oldest are the leaders, youngest are the attention-seekers, middle are the peace-keepers), we tend to think parents play a major role in shaping our children’s behaviour.

Unless, of course, our children drop the F-bomb in public. Then it’s ALL big brother’s fault. 

What to read next

If you’re interested in how birth order impacts personality, check out this story.

We’ve also got an article on how your child’s birth month may also impact their personality. Note: Although science does support the idea that seasons affect personality, there is no adequate evidence to suggest a baby’s personality is shaped by our birth month, but hey, it’s fun to see how the stars line up. 

Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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