There have been countless studies done on nature vs. nurture, whether we are each born who we are or if personality and behavior are learned. Most people believe it’s a combination of both. Along with genetics and gender, there’s another factor that has warranted much research and greatly contributes to who we become; that’s birth order. Certain traits are associated with birth order and it’s actually quite important to know them so you can better parent to your individual children.
Today we’re breaking down typical birth order traits to help you understand each of your children:
Firstborn children are products of getting a lot of attention during their early years. They tend to be “mini adults” and emulate their parents. Often high achievers, people-pleasers and perfectionists, firstborn children like to be in charge, assume leadership roles and may boss around other children. They are responsible, conscientious and reliable, but may feel jealous when younger children are born. Firstborns put a lot of pressure on themselves and may feel anxious when they underperform.
The middle child usually gets the least amount of attention in a family. Therefore, middle children learn to be independent and develop a social circle to compensate. They usually become peacemakers and learn to compromise and negotiate to get what they need or want. Middle children are flexible and feel comfortable in many situations, mostly out of necessity. They will sometimes act out or at least find ways to stand out, such as selecting hobbies very different from their siblings.
The baby of the family is usually the most outgoing, free-spirited and creative of the group. Parents tend to be less strict with their youngest child and continue the role of caregiver and protector longer. This makes youngest children less responsible and indecisive, and may be seen as spoiled and demanding. Because parents’ attention is diverted between several children, the youngest learns how to turn on the charm to get noticed, and it usually works on the entire family
Only children are similar to firstborns and youngest children in many ways. They are surrounded by adults most of the time, which gives them maturity beyond their years, both intellectually and emotionally. Only children usually enjoy structure, attention and responsibility, but may not take criticism well. Only children are given more space to develop their creativity but also learn to be independent when they want to escape from the adult world. They are sometimes viewed as self-centered and inflexible because they don’t have to share belongings or attention like children with siblings do.
Of course birth order traits are not an exact science. In fact, some siblings may display the exact opposite of these characteristics. But as a whole, most people fall into these categories. There are some widely accepted exceptions, such as twins, adopted children, blended families and when there is a big age gap between children. Even if your kids don’t fit these molds, it’s important to realize how children’s personalities and perspectives differ, and how you can best nurture your kids to reach their highest potential.