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Eldest Daughter Syndrome: How To Identify And Overcome It?

Eldest Daughter Syndrome: How To Identify And Overcome It?

It is not easy for a child to accept the change from an only child to an older child. After the arrival of the second child, oldest sibling has to compromise on the attention, love, and affection of her parents. This compromise and change sometimes lead to developing an “Eldest Daughter Syndrome” in the first-born daughter.

In this blog, we will discuss “Eldest Daughter Syndrome” briefly. Eight prominent signs would be addressed to understand it and in the end, effective solutions would be suggested to overcome this syndrome effectively.

Eldest Daughter Syndrome

Eldestdaughtersyndrome is the most unaddressed syndrome. But it really needs to be addressed for the awareness of the daughter, parents, family, and even society for million views. Because if it does not resolve at the right time it becomes the root of so many personality problems, and siblings’ rivalry. Psychotherapist suggests that there is a clear need to set boundaries for upbringing of siblings get this issue resolved. 

Normally, older sibling is either very strong or compliant. Alfred Adler is a psychiatrist who presented the birth order theory. Adler believed that personality is shaped and affected by birth order. He further added that the family, community, and social aspects also play a major role in shaping a person’s personality.

Sometimes eldest daughter might becomes unexpectedly competitive with other siblings. She often throws a tantrum due to jealousy. Shows dominance and becomes the boss around her younger siblings. These are the clear signs of eldest daughter syndrome.

All over the world when the second child is born it brings a clear transition in the family. The family has to give love, care, and attention to the second child as well. The first daughter feels dethroned from the only child to the elder child. If this transition becomes stressful, it can cause developmental crises.

This stressful transition can become the cause of sibling rivalry and jealousy. And ultimately, it becomes a traumatic experience for the firstborn daughter. These are some first born problems. Therefore, experts named it the eldest daughter syndrome.

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8 Signs of eldest daughter syndrome

If you’re the oldest it is both a blessing and an examination. There are some pros and cons of the eldest daughter. Sometimes we see the love, care, affection, money, toys, trips, etc. which she receives from the family. But other times we have to see the struggles of being the eldest child. Such as self-care, responsibilities from a young age, parentification, and to please others with good manners. 

Some unhealthy behaviors and personality traits can become strong signs of the syndrome. Now, we are going to discuss specifically those 8 signs which can determine this syndrome.

  1. Unhealthy competitive attitude
  2. Extremely high self-esteem
  3. Desire to lead
  4. Continuous urge to become flawless
  5. Act as a parent to other siblings
  6. Becomes obsessive
  7. Becomes controlling
  8. Family pressure to become role model for other siblings


The arrival of a newborn is so delightful. Sometimes, parents do not handle the division of love among their children properly. Parents start to ignore the first daughter. Now, the question arises why do parents ignore the oldest child? Might be they do so because the newborn is totally dependent on them. Or they think that the oldest child can take care and lot of responsibility now.

Parents think that the oldest daughter is stronger than the newborn. They think that the oldest daughter is physically and emotionally strong. She can understand things and situations easily. Therefore, they serve their efforts for the newborn.

Infect sometimes they expect parentification from her. It means they expect that oldest daughter take care of them and understand chores and responsibilities. This is called parentification. Due to all these reasons, the daughters often hold a grudge against their siblings or parents. This grudge becomes the reason for sibling rivalry and jealousy.

This grudge creates an unhealthy competitive attitude in the eldest daughter. She starts competing with her younger siblings. This unhealthy competitive attitude promotes the idea that whatever it takes she has to win. She does not think about the psychological or physical injury of others at all.


Recently, multiple studies show that many eldest daughters tend to have higher self-esteem. They might feel like having very high confidence and parentified. This confidence and higher self-esteem help her a lot academically and professionally. And they try to set a good example not just for youngest siblings but for all. Academically they can achieve higher grades and scores. And professionally can show a wonderful professional attitude.

But this higher self-esteem can be alarming for dealing with the social life. Because sometimes the high self-esteem leads to having a high ego level. This ego tend to take them towards rigidity and stubbornness. Therefore, having extremely high self-esteem can signify eldest daughter syndrome.


The eldest daughter is like to have a thirst to lead, which can be a clear sign of eldest daughter syndrome. Eldest daughter often shoulder a heavy responsibility to lead and help the younger siblings. They take care of their siblings and often expected to take adult responsibilities too. This leading behavior becomes their habit and carry it in the future for domestic work. The try to become independent to make their decisions independently. Still, beware of their age as well, do not mix the first sign of puberty with these symptoms. The desire to lead can be a sign of this syndrome.

desire to lead can be a sign of eldest daughter syndrome
The desire to lead can be a sign of eldest daughter syndrome.

Research shows that sometimes this leading behavior turns negative and she starts dominating. This dominating behavior provokes her to control other siblings. She not only controls other sibling’s actions but also behaviors and decisions as well. If this behavior becomes persistent then this might become the sign of eldest daughter syndrome.


Numerous studies have shown that the eldest daughter has a tendency to be a perfectionist. She always has higher standards than her other siblings. She tries to achieve more and more without asking for help. If there are limits to her perfection and achievements then it is fine. Whereas if some failure makes her aggressive then it is problematic.

She gets upset when she cannot achieve something and gain lot of guilt. She gets depressed when her siblings achieve something or win. These are unhealthy signs that can effect rest of your life like mental health. If she continuously and madly efforts to become flawless then it is a sign of the syndrome.


For the sake of attachment, parents give some responsibilities and burden of domestic chores to eldest daughter. For instance, they ask her to stay around the middle siblings. Inform us if she/he cries, or do not let him fall down, etc. It gives the eldest daughter a chance to stay connected to the younger sibling.

Such responsibilities develop a sibling’s bond. And the eldest daughter becomes a second parent to the younger siblings. It also gives a boost to attachment and overall responsible behavior. Though it is totally fine if the relationship goes smooth.

Sometimes eldest daughter demands the same obedience as the parents from younger siblings. It is alarming for both parents and the daughter. They are siblings, they will fight and argue as well. If she does not allow any such thing to her younger then it can be a sign of “eldest daughter syndrome.


These are the first born women and girls characteristics to be protective, people-pleasing and perfect. It is wonderful for her household responsibilities and professional life. But if it turns towards extremism then it is not good at all. Because in this way the younger sibling will become dependent on her. Ultimately the eldestdaughter will lose herself and have no time to rest.

As she will keep protecting her younger siblings particularly youngest child. She will become obsessive about them and will not pay attention to herself and her career. This obsession and domestic labour can be labeled as a sign of eldest daughter syndrome.


The eldest daughter has the tendency to be perfect and an achiever. Sometimes this tendency turns negative and she starts making things perfect around her. She does not care whether those things belong to her or not. She wants everything to be perfect either housework or professional. Therefore, she not only focus on her own achievements but also forces on others to do their best. She expect so much and siblings may get emotionally upset. 

The quest for perfection, provoke her to control her surroundings, especially her siblings. She makes decisions on behalf of her siblings. Does not let them play, or let them waste time. When this controlling behavior becomes irritating for her siblings and for the others it is dangerous. It might be a sign of “oldest daughter syndrome.


It is observed that mostly parent desire their “eldest daughter to be perfect. They ask her to do her best in every field. Parents want her to behave well, dress up decently, and achieve a lot academically. She already has the tendency to be perfect and the pressure from her parents depresses her a lot.

Eldest daughter syndrome can result from parental pressure
Eldest daughter syndrome can result from parental pressure.

She wants to feel that her parents are trying to understand her. It should not be like that she is doing unpaid internship for the rest of her life. This can be a bad childhood experience. Eldest daughter syndrome can result from parental pressure and wrong parenting styles.

Her parents want her to be a role model for her younger siblings. So that they proudly ask them to follow the eldest daughter. She does not accept any kind of failure, which becomes problematic for her present and future life. 


If parents observe the upper mentioned signs in their daughter, they must help to get rid of them. Parents should start taking those measures which can help her to remove those signs. They should change their behaviors and help their daughter as well.

  • Do not expect a lot from your elder daughter. Draw moderate level expectations from her and let her enjoy her life as a normal human being.
  • Give your elder daughter ample space to grow and flourish. Do not put so much burden of responsibilities on her.
  • Do encourage her leadership skills. But do not let her become bossy or dominate other siblings.
  • After the arrival of the newborn, do not ignore the eldest daughter. Do spare quality and special time to spend only with her.
  • Let her play, relax and explore rather than to dictate her. Because child may feel daughter is like an unpaid servant. 
  • Therapy can help resolve such issues, licensed marriage and family therapist can help a lot.
  • Do not give so much attention, care, or affection all the time. Do not become overprotective. Give her some personal time, for independent play, and to explore things. This will help her to tackle the situation after the new arrival.


In a nut shell, elder daughter syndrome does exist, and people must be aware of it. If it is diagnosed at an early age, then it would be very easy to overcome it. This blog will be very helpful for those parents who are noticing the strange behavior of their elder daughter.

After reading it they can easily identify the reason behind such bossy and difficult behavior. They can also help her deal with it effectively. Because if these signs become part of her nature, then it would be very problematic for her and for the people connected to her. We wrote another article about firstborn psychology, which can be read here.

Thanks for reading we would be very happy to hear from you in the comments sections of our Facebook page. You can also visit our Quora page. Feel free to leave your comments and queries about Eldest Daughter Syndrome: How To Identify And Overcome It? !!!

About The Author

Qurratulain Nabeel

This is QURRATULAIN - an M.Phil in Applied Psychology. Being a mother of two I tried to put my knowledge into practice, which proved very beneficial for me. By using the platform of I am so pleased to share my experience with people all around the world.

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