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15 Reasons The Eldest Child Is A High Achiever

15 Reasons The Eldest Child Is A High Achiever
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Did you know that the majority of Ivy League students in Harvard and other prestigious schools are firstborns or only children? How about the fact that all 12 men to have walked on the moon were either eldest or only children?

Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Sandberg, JK Rowling, and Beyoncé are also all firstborn children in their families. If you are betting on which child will be a high achiever and most successful at school, you should probably place your bets on the eldest.

According to a recent study carried out at The University of Essex, eldest children are high achievers and more likely to outdo their younger siblings. While it’s dangerous to make generalizations and there are always exceptions, older siblings generally have more intelligence and success.

Here are 15 reasons why the eldest children are such high achievers.

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1. They are down-to-earth and honest.

There is not much room to cut corners for firstborns. That’s because they are expected to be role models and pacesetters for their younger brothers and sisters. The eldest child finds that they have to be more truthful, caring, and honest to prove a point to their parents (even in adulthood).

2. They are ambitious and self-driven.

As pacesetters and role models, the eldest children are programmed for excellence and achievement from a young age. They are ambitious because they have to “lead the way.” This is a powerful variable that plays an important role in a person’s drive for success, and it shows in the eldest child throughout their life.

3. They are hardy and better able to handle stress.

That’s because they’ve had to learn how to adapt and handle pressure in the family from the time they were young. The eldest child is a mini-parent in most families, especially in large ones. They are exposed to many of the challenges their parents have in raising the kids. As the younger siblings grow up, the firstborn doesn’t always get their way, equating to greater stress and a greater need to adapt even more. This process is tough, but it also helps firstborns develop thick skin — a necessary ingredient for success.

4. They are dependable and take the lead.

As mini-parents, the eldest child feels the pressure to take the lead and care for the family, especially their younger siblings. Richard Branson (founder of Virgin Group), who has two younger sisters, thinks this responsibility placed on the eldest child is significant. “Firstborns are usually given the responsibility of looking after younger siblings,” he told the Financial Times, “and this can help ingrain leadership skills at a young age.

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5. They are resourceful and work harder.

That’s because they are expected to take on leadership and caregiving roles in the family. As a result, the eldest child finds that he has to work harder, be more hands-on, and be more resourceful. This resourcefulness gives firstborn children a marked edge for success throughout their life.

6. They are disciplined and consistent in manners.

Parents discipline the eldest child more strictly and often become more lenient as they have more kids, in what has been referred to as the “lazy-parent theory.” No wonder the first child always feels that younger siblings have it easier. A parent’s reputation for maintaining strict discipline with the eldest child makes the child maintain more consistent standards of discipline throughout their life.

7. They are always figuring things out on their own.

Who would blame them, really? Unlike later siblings, who have someone to pioneer and instruct them on which path to take, the eldest children have no one to teach them. They have to explore, risk, and learn most of what they know on their own. That’s not easy; however, it instills them with valuable life skills.

8. They always share the knowledge they acquire.

Firstborns feel it is their duty to diligently teach and instruct their younger siblings. In teaching the younger ones, the eldest child grows smarter in the process. This tendency to search for knowledge and teach others continues into adulthood and gives firstborns an edge. After all, knowledge is power.

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9. They are intelligent and scholarly.

Albert Einstein was also a firstborn child. It looks like his intelligence wasn’t a coincidence. Numerous studies have found that firstborns are generally more intelligent and score higher on IQ tests. History even shows that firstborns are more likely to become president. Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were all firstborns. Some people have suggested that it’s genetic, in the sense that later kids receive diminished “genetic endowment.” Whatever the reason, the eldest child tends to have a healthier brain and exhibits higher cognitive abilities.

10. They stay in education longer and are better qualified.

Feifei Bu, the PhD candidate (at the time) who led the University of Essex study, analyzed data from more than 3,500 brothers and sisters. She concludes: “My research revealed firstborn children have higher educational aspirations and this translates into higher educational attainment.” What surprised Bu the most is that the birth order effect was much stronger than the impact of gender, in terms of attainment. Even taking into account the education and professional status of their parents, the study found firstborns were 7% more likely to aspire to stay in the educational system longer than their younger siblings.

11. They get a greater share of their parents’ money to pursue their interests.

Families initially spend more money on the first child, especially when considering multiple kids. That’s because firstborns hit an early start in costly private schools, extracurricular activities, tutoring, and all the other things that increase the chances of success. This happens with no competition appearing until later when siblings emerge. When siblings are born, the eldest child may lose their privileged run. Of course, the number of years between children is an important variable in this situation.

12. They are less likely to do drugs.

Studies have found that firstborns are less likely to do drugs and get pregnant at a young age. Although these two realities are not always impediments to success, they account for something.

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13. They are less likely to have their formative years disrupted by divorce.

Divorce is common in today’s society, but it is more likely to happen after the first child is past their formative years. The first child arrives into a stable family where the parents are still blossoming in love. Later children may not be so lucky. They are more likely to be disrupted by a family crisis.

14. They enjoy their parents’ first and purest love.

Parents tend to love and devote more time and care to their eldest child because it’s their first child. The eldest children are the delicate babies carried around and breastfed most of the time. Not to mention they are the ones who are constantly watched over to make sure they are breathing in their crib. The first child is the only one that ever truly has their parents completely to themselves, while all other children have to share. This has a positive impact on the firstborn’s self-worth and self esteem throughout their life.

15. They get the most mature treatment.

Parents pay a different kind of attention to the eldest child, giving them the most mature treatment. The theory is that if you treat a child like an adult, they will respond the same way. That explains why, even in adulthood, firstborns come across as more mature and accomplished. V. Joseph Hotz, a research associate of the Duke Population Research Institute observes that, “Reputations matter for politicians, teachers, and even used car salesmen.” Being perceived as mature, responsible, and reputable is a critical factor for high achievement and success in life.

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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