Being the oldest sibling can be tough. After all, you were the Guinea pig, the one your parents used to learn how to be a parent. I guess that sounds kind of mean but think about it. Unless your parents worked at daycares or one of them babysit other children, when you, the oldest child came along, they were clueless. This started the oldest child syndrome.
This issue, although it sounds sad, helps our parents become better at raising you and your siblings.
There is a positive and negative side
Yes, this issue does have good and bad points since you got all the attention and didn’t have to share toys. But something less attractive may have developed from this place in your family. Being the oldest child sounds like it holds great power, but it can also create problems. So, are you the oldest child?
Signs that you have the oldest child syndrome:
1. Being an over-achiever
Firstborns are often perfectionists. They start to pick up vibes that everyone expects certain things from them. These are just ordinary vibes, but the over-achieving oldest child will put more into the expectations than they should. They want to make you, the parent proud of them and will go to any lengths to do so.
This attitude, while strained, can eventually lead to success in their lives. They will excel in their studies and in sports, not stopping until they feel their endeavors lack nothing.
2. You get harsher punishments
As the oldest child, not only do the parents take more pictures, buy more toys, but they also dish out harsher punishments. Harsher than what, you may ask?
The oldest child will endure punishments that years later, younger siblings will not. By the time baby number 2 and 3 arrive, the parents will have grown a bit lenient. It’s so unfair, but that’s just the way it goes, and yes, you have the oldest child syndrome.
3. No hand-me-downs
Guess what, you might have the syndrome of being the oldest child, but you also have all new clothes too, unless someone outside the family gives you a few things. Otherwise, everything else you wear will be yours first. It will not be until your siblings come along that you will hand these clothes down to them.
You feel privileged if you take the time to think about it. Sometimes you may brag a little too much about it.
4. Secretly resents the younger siblings
The first baby – they always get the first of everything else too. They are cuddled all the time, played with, and get the best bedtime stories. Then suddenly, a new baby arrives, and things start to change.
The mother cannot allocate as much time with them as before. She has to dole out the love for two people now. Just wait until there’s a third one. Oh, how the oldest resents the birth of their siblings. The good news is, they usually grow to love them as they get older.
5. They’re serious and sometimes solitary
The oldest child is serious about most things and also loves to be alone. This is the case before siblings come along and especially afterward. It’s not so much out of anger or depression, it’s just a part of their personality.
My oldest son loved being by himself, and only when he entered high school did he make many friends. Maybe he had the oldest child syndrome and maybe not.
6. They’re either strong-willed or the opposite
The oldest child can have a strong will and be extremely independent. On the other hand, they could also be dependent on everyone, afraid and always trying to please everyone. So, when the second child comes along, the oldest child will either be rebellious or compliant.
7. Loves acting as a teacher
The oldest child loves the role of teacher to their younger siblings. While it’s good to have an in-house tutor, the oldest child may teach some less-than-savory lessons to his younger sisters or brothers.
However, as the older child teaches their siblings different things, when they learn they are wrong, it helps them grow. Too bad it can influence the minds of the younger children.
How can the oldest child overcome this syndrome?
The way in which your oldest child acts doesn’t have to be a syndrome, but it can. There are positive things that the eldest member of the family can do in order to utilize their child’s abilities.
- Encourage your oldest child to help with chores without denying playtime. Coax them to learn balance.
- Make sure you give credit to your child when they have done something good. Since oldest children have perfectionist attitudes, try to notice the little things so they see that your expectations are being met in them.
- Make sure you give privileges. Although your first child will be the one you hover over and try to protect, let them do some things on their own. Set an age where they can do things differently and feel more mature.
- Don’t forget to spend quality time with each child, especially the oldest. This prevents the eldest child from thinking their time with you has passed.
Is it really a syndrome, or just a way of thinking?
In reality, I think each child, whether they are oldest, somewhere in the middle, or maybe the youngest of the clan, will have a different set of characteristics. It’s difficult raising children the same. In fact, it’s impossible. You just simply cannot do the same things for the middle of the youngest child, as you’ve done for your oldest child. That’s because, like them, you are growing too – you are growing as a parent.
So, if your child is exhibiting signs of oldest child syndrome, don’t be alarmed. Just help them use their quirks and strengths.
If you’re an adult still struggling with this, you can still embrace your behavior as your strengths. Adults, take a look at those signs above and ask yourself, “Do I have the oldest child syndrome?” And most importantly, be honest with yourself. Only then can you approach the issue in the right way.
So, which child were you? Myself, I am the youngest. I’d love to hear about your place in your family and your wonderful stories.
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