Are you a first-born or only child, or do you have older siblings? The answer to that question could go a long way toward explaining how you go about setting goals, and achieving them. That’s the upshot of a brand new study.
Researchers found that first-born children are more likely to value “mastery goals,” which involves working to get better at something until you’ve mastered it - whether it’s basketball, painting or math. That means first-borns are more motivated to learn.
But they say second-born children are more motivated to win, because they’re more likely to focus on “performance goals.” That means they want to get better than everybody else – especially their older siblings. Of course, both kids want to win – but they come at it from different angles. Take tennis players Venus and Serena Williams - Venus is older, but Serena is the better player.
Why the difference? It’s partly because – at least for awhile - first-born children don’t have any competition from a sibling – no one to be compared to. So, first-born kids are only to competing with themselves, and trying to achieve personal bests.
Yet parents tend to judge the second child by how well the older child did in the same sport or activity, or at that same age, which motivates younger children to try to catch up to their older siblings, and surpass them.
The difference in first-born and second-born attitude is also influenced by the responsibilities kids are given when they’re young. For example, older siblings are often told to “take care of” their little sister or brother. And they become part of the framework that pushes younger kids to want to catch up and do just as well as the bigger kids – if not better.