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Birth order and development

Ever wondered whether your little one's position in the family will influence the way they grow - we look at how birth order affects personality and development
Its amazing how brothers and sisters with the same parents, upbringing and life experience end up with such different personalities and interests. One school of though believe that your place in the family has a huge influence on how you'll turn out, determining everything from the type of career you'll choose to the type of person you'll become, but does birth order really have much of an effect?

Although it's officially classed as 'pop psychology' its easy to believe that where you're born in relation to your siblings really does have an effect on how you'll turn out. Your place in the family hierarchy influences everything from the amount of 'quality time' you spend with your parents as an infant to whether you're the trail blazer or baby of the family all of which must have some impact on your expectations of, and the way you interact with, the 'outside world'.

Some believe that there are a certain set of identifiable characteristics that go with each birth position, see how these correspond with you and your brood...

First borns

For a while at least first borns receive the undivided attention of their parents. Being the first to do everything can mean you're doted on and overprotected while at the same time under great expectation to succeed. For this reason first borns are often perfectionists. Determined to live up to their own and their parents high expectations they hate to mess up and so are often quite cautious and unwilling to take risks. First borns can be fiercely ambitious and driven to succeed which is perhaps why more first borns are in 'high powered' jobs than any other sibling position.

On the other hand first borns have to make the transition from only child to sibling. Parents often encourage the eldest child to take on extra responsibility and 'be a grown up' to their baby brother or sister and while this can make first borns very caring towards others it can also make them very strong willed and quite stubborn when it comes to new ideas and ways of doing things.

Middle children

More than anything middle children are different from their elder siblings, having never been the 'only one' they've got to fight for their parents attention somehow! Middle children sometimes act out to fight for attention, enjoy winding up their siblings and often adopt a hard done by attitude to life (characteristics often put down to middle child syndrome).

As they aren't the trail blazer of the family, middle children often have fewer expectations and less pressure to succeed placed on them by their parents and so are more likely to follow the life path they want to. They are often very sociable, have great people skills and lots of friends. Middle children often have good negotiation skills too, probably from the years of practice they've had competing with their older brother or sister!

The youngest child

The youngest child is often spoiled and treated as the baby of the family. As their older siblings have been there and done it all before they have far fewer expectations placed on them by their parents and so tend to be more impulsive and egocentric than their brothers and sisters. Having grown up as the baby, youngest children have to fight to be heard and so are often quite gregarious and outgoing. They also often have their parents wrapped around their little finger and are much more likely to get away with things than their brothers and sisters. As they have had so few constraints put on their development by their parents youngest children tend to follow more artistic pursuits and take more risks than older siblings, although they still tend to be treated as the baby even when they're grown.

The only child

Only children are very much like first borns in that they are blessed with the undivided attention of their parents, although this carries on uninterrupted through their childhood and beyond. For this reason only children often spend a lot of time with grown ups and so can be quite advanced for their years and can also be quite eager to please. However, having never had to learn to share only children can be quite egocentric and many have awful time keeping skills.

As only children don't have playmates on hand they have to learn to entertain themselves and so are often quite happy in their own company using hobbies to keep themselves amused. They tend to be quite independent as adults although just as the only child are often pampered by their parents right on into adulthood.

Although its obvious that there is a lot more to personality than where you're born in your family many people do fit these stereotypes (I know my family certainly does) and while there is nothing concrete about birth order predictions it can be quite fun to imagine how your little ones will grow up!

Does this sound like your family? Do you believe there is anything in birth order personality prediction? Share your thoughts with other AskBaby members in our Talk Forums.

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Wow I actually totally agree with some of the points made here. I'm the first born child, and I'm "very strong willed and quite stubborn when it comes to new ideas and ways of doing things". I'm also "quite cautious and unwilling to take risks" lol. My little brother also fits the youngest child bit too! :D
by LuckyMummy2 13th Oct 2009, 9:10am