Have you ever heard of middle-child syndrome?
This is categorised as a largely negative psychological condition which typically impacts children who are born second in a sequence of three siblings. These individuals often bemoan their fate and the fact that that are largely ignored, while they may even grow to become resentful of parental attention afforded to the first-born child and youngest sibling.
While this is a well-known phenomenon, the psychological impact of being the youngest child is given far less consideration. In general terms, the youngest or last-born sibling tends to be viewed as less disadvantaged than the middle child, as they are relieved from some burdens of responsibility and are more likely to pursue non-conformist, creative goals. Successful creatives and unconventional individuals such as Charlie Chaplin, Johnny Depp, and Jim Carrey are all youngest siblings, and this reinforces the evidence behind the birth order theory.
So why are the youngest siblings most likely to pursue unconventional and creative career paths? Let’s consider the following factors:
1. They Are Free From The Burden Of Responsibility
According to a recent report in the Metro, just 31% of all younger siblings consider themselves to be the most responsible child in their family. This contrasts with 54% of older children and suggests that the last born children are free from the considerable burden that responsibility brings at all stages of life. This enables them to pursue their passions into adulthood, rather than being required to assume responsible and well-paid careers, affording them the opportunity to indulge their creative bent.
2. They Have A Healthy Disregard For The Rules
The Metro survey also revealed that last born children tend to be more relaxed and easy-going than their older siblings, with 47% considering themselves to be flexible in the face of change. This supports the notion that they are free from the burden of responsibility, while it also suggests that they are spared the restrictive and scrutinised upbringing afforded to their brothers and sisters. The result of this is a demographic that considers rules and regulations to be flexible and has a healthy disregard for order, which encourages creativity in many of its positive, unstructured and fluid forms.
3. They Are Actively Encouraged To Indulge Their Creative Passions
The Metro report also concluded that 17% of last born children feel favoured by their parents, in contrast with just 10% of older siblings. This suggests that younger siblings benefit from more confident and lenient parenting, as mothers and fathers become more comfortable in their roles and adopt a hands-off approach. This creates a nurturing and encouraging environment for last born children in which they are afforded the tools to follow their creative dreams rather than being moulded to assume more responsible and practical roles.
4. They Benefit From The Nurturing Presence Of Older Siblings
On a similar note, last born children can also benefit from the nurturing and protective presence of older siblings. This contributes to a close-knit support network for young infants that provides the ideal platform from which they can confidently pursue creative hobbies of their choosing. The relationship between older and younger individuals can also extend into adulthood and beyond sibling relationships, as responsible and more authoritative people help to channel raw creativity into practical innovation.
5. They Want To Change The World That First Born Children Rule
According to author Michael Grose, who penned the insightful Why Firstborns Rule the World and Last Borns Want to Change It, the youngest member of a typical family is the least likely to earn a six figure salary. While some may consider this to be a negative point, this is simply due to their primary focus as individuals rather than a lack of motivation. In fact, last born children tend to be both ambitious and revolutionary in their nature, as they look to effect positive change and leave their mark on the world through non-authoritarian methods such as art or rebellion. This empowers them to be creative in the pursuit of their goals rather than formulaic.
6. They Are Less Fashion-Conscious And Develop Their Own Trends
The concept of sharing ‘hand me down’ clothing and toys between siblings is woven into the fabric of society, especially in an age when the thrift market remains enduringly popular. This has the potential to save families huge amounts of money, although it usually means that the youngest siblings rarely receive garments and accessories that are purchased new. The result of this is that they lose touch with the prevailing fashion trends over time and instead look to develop their own sense of style. This creates an independent and creative mindset that is not bound by popular conceptions or style restrictions.
7. They Are More In Touch With Modern Technology And Creative Platforms
The youngest and last born children are more likely to grow up surrounded by the latest technological trends and platforms. Even allowing for the pace of innovation in the modern age, this affords younger children a greater opportunity to pursue and showcase their creative skills. If you look at the latest trends in television and advertising, for example, you will see that online video streaming grew at a rate of 60% at the end of 2014 and continues to outstrip traditional mediums. Given this and the fact that the video on demand (VOD) format offers greater flexibility and less regulatory barriers in terms of output, younger siblings are well placed to indulge their creativity and share this with the world.
8. They Seek Attention Through Non-confrontational Methods
According to a BBC survey from nine years ago, just over 50% of last born siblings found it easy to be humorous and make others laugh. Experts believe that this is a skill that develops organically throughout childhood, as younger siblings tend to be slightly more extroverted and motivated to compete for their parents’ attention. They look to do this through non-confrontational methods, however, with creative output an excellent way of expressing themselves and drawing the attention of those around them. This is a trend that continues into adulthood, with creative comedy writers such as Dawn French and Ricky Gervais all born as younger siblings.
9. They Are The Least Likely To Unlearn Creativity
According to renowned teacher Jonathan Halls, every single individual is born with a creative streak. While this can be developed and honed in the right environment, it can also be partially prevented in children who are subjected to negative thinking or an overly strict upbringing. We also lose touch with our creativity as we grow older, as the pressures of adulthood, work, and relationships demand a more practical mindset. Last born siblings are the most likely to retain their creative bent, however, thanks to a less pressurised upbringing and the more manageable expectations of parents.
10. They Have More Time To Pursue Creative Hobbies During Their Teens
Although last born siblings compete for attention during childhood, this behaviour tends to subside as their older brothers and sisters leave home. This may create a period of time during their teens when they are the sole focus of their parents’ attention, creating a more reflective and thoughtful epoch of their lives. It will also help them to channel their creative instinct, since they spend more time by themselves and benefit from the opportunity to take on a wider range of artistic and design-influenced projects.
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