I have five siblings and we all have very distinct personalities. As I have grown up, I have noticed there are definitely shared traits in people, depending on where they fall in the order of their family.
In fact, some researchers believe birth order is as important as gender, and almost as important as genetics. The major influencer is that parents change how they deal with each child. For example, as the oldest of six children, my mom was much more attentive and overprotective when she parented me than she was when she had my sister, five years later or my baby brother who she had the summer before I left for college.
I know now from having my own children that firstborn babies get a lot of attention. That is the child who teaches us to be parents. I was overprotective with my oldest and completely dedicated to her when she was a baby. There were no other distractions.
When I had her sister, two things happened. My loved doubled, but my time and attention was split in half. I had two years to learn what were really potential threats and what was important and what was not. I didn’t hold my breath every time the baby cried or carry two diaper bags full of “necessities” every time I left the house. I learned that babies cry and learn to self-soothe. That they will eat when they are hungry. And they don’t need to be held all the time.
So what does the research tell us about birth order?
Eldest children are often over achievers who thrive in organizing and taking control. I know this firsthand. I am a firstborn. They’ve had a lot of attention from their first-time parents and are very responsible, reliable, careful and seek parental approval. Firstborns are often natural leaders. Eldest children learn to be nurturing to their younger siblings and take on a sort of parental role. I spent many of my tween and teen years babysitting my younger siblings.
The Middle Child
Middle children are understanding, cooperative and flexible because they have to be. They learn to go with the flow. They do, however, tend to be competitive from years of competing for their place in the family. Middle children receive the least amount of attention, so they tend to seek it in their friendships.
The Youngest Child
If you’re the baby, your parents are more laid back and lenient when parenting you than they ever were with your siblings. Youngest children are often risk takers, charming and creative. Youngest children have more freedom to be themselves and live as they like because their parents are not as overbearing as they were with their firstborn. However, both youngest and oldest children enjoy the feeling of being special because of having some alone time with parents before and after the other kids arrive or leave.
No matter where your child falls in birth order, they all have their own special talents and strengths. As a parent, it helps to be aware of these traits.
Do you feel that these personality traits fit your children?