Children With An Older Brother Have Poorer Language Skills Than Those With A Big Sister

Posted on August 30, 2019

When it comes to verbal capabilities, birth order might matter, according to a new discovery by Naomi Havron and colleagues at PSL University. In this study, individuals who have older brothers were found to have weaker verbal abilities.

The research concerned the impact of age and sex of older siblings on the verbal skills of children using data from a French study known as EDEN. EDEN has followed participants from birth until they turn 11 years old, and language skills of the participants were assessed at different ages. Out of the 1,276 children were involved in the study, and 547 of them had an older sibling.

Findings suggested that generally, participants with an older sibling had weaker language abilities compared to children with no older siblings. More importantly, children who have elder brothers have poorer language skills compared to children with elder sisters. Furthermore, the age gap between the participant and their older sibling did not seem to affect the language abilities of the participants.

While it is not known exactly what causes this trend, researchers have suggested possible reasons for the differences in verbal abilities in children with older brothers. One explanation could be that females generally have better language capabilities than males and are also more nurturing, hence influencing their younger siblings to develop good language skills as well. Another reason could be that sisters demand less attention from their parents as compared to brothers. Parents are thus able to spend more time and attention with their younger children.

Although this may seem as if having an older brother is disadvantageous to an individual, children with older brothers do appear to be associated with other positive traits such as socializing. Furthermore, this study only consisted of French children. As such, it is not yet known if this ‘older-brother effect' applies to children across all cultures.

Category(s):Child Development, Other

Source material from The British Psychological Society Research Digest