A Challenging 2nd Born

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The Challenging Second Born

A "Challenging Second Born" is one who challenges an older sibling on the older sibling's own turf…

Statistically, the majority of same-sex Second Borns tend to carve out a life in different directions than their older brother or sister.

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The Challenger Theory:

Second Borns want their own glories in life and they know that the prospect of achieving unique accomplishments is not clearly probable unless different life paths are taken. If the First Born is a doctor, the Second (or Last) child may go for being a professional athlete. If the FB is shy, the typical Second Born is very outgoing, earning many friendships. Where one zigs, the other zags.

"Challenging Second Borns", however, may try to dethrone a First Born by out-doing or out-scoring the FB in his own achievements. This typically and logically only happens when there is a close age difference (1-2 years) between the FB and Challenger. The Challenger has to have the attitude that there is a shot at winning the game (of who's better). Some Second Borns become obsessed with outshining and outdoing their older sibling. The closer the age gap between the two, the more likely this is to happen.

Some Challenging Second Borns tend to be more organized, focused and determined to be "the best" than many typical First Borns. They have to be if they're to beat someone who's had a head start in their choice of pursuits.

The effect of "failure" on the First Born: If the Challenger is persistent, and begins to continually beat his older sibling, on his own turf, the First Born is forced to make a conscious choice to keep fighting for the top spot on the totem pole, or relinquish his or her authority (and bragging rights as top-dog) to the Challenger.

Losing in any competition is especially embarrassing for First Borns. By nature, they're hardworking perfectionists. By virtue of being bigger, smarter, and more experienced than their younger siblings, they feel it is their birthright to hold the power and prestige of being "best" amongst siblings in whatever they do.

If the First Born does "lose" the title of being "best" in the things that he or she held great pride, the First Born may begin to take on many of the Last Child's archetypal traits; finding an open spot in the Family Dynamic to be the funny one, the creative and relaxed one or the one who cracks jokes and exudes sarcasm.


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Photo of author Betty Baker

Betty Baker M.A. Psych, M.Ed

About the Author

Betty Baker is an awarded marriage and family therapist and contributor to the internationally renowned PeaceBuilders® Program - a science-based, research-validated violence prevention curriculum and professional development program for children, grades pre-K to 12.