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Being favourite child linked to depression

Having a favourite child might not be such a good thing after all


According to a study by researchers in the US, children who are considered to be the ‘favourite’ one have a higher chance of suffering from depression.

Scientists at Purdue University in Indiana have found that being classed as the most-liked child can take its toll on emotions.

Those who were seen to be preferred were often the target of sibling rivalry, with researchers saying the pressure of always feeling obligated towards their mum or dadaffected their moods.

Professor Jill Suitor led the study: “There is a cost for those who perceive they are the closest emotionally to their mothers, and these children report higher depressive symptoms.”

It was also found that those who believed they were the child in whom their parent was most disappointed, or with whom they had the most conflict, were also affected.

A separate study carried out by the University of California in 2005, found that 65 per cent of mothers and 70 per cent of fathers demonstrated a preference for one of their children.

In 2009, another study involving 14,000 families in Bristol revealed that each successive sibling received “markedly” less care and attention than their predecessors.

Older siblings were even fed better, as a result of which they were likely to be up to 3cm taller than their younger siblings.

They also had higher IQs, probably because they had the benefit of their parents’ undivided attention for the first part of their lives.

According to official figures from the Office of National Statistics, 10 per cent of children in Great Britain aged between 5 and 16 have a mental health problem, with four per cent of children suffering from an emotional disorder such as anxiety or depression.

If you are concerned about your child and depression, more information and help is available at:

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