How birth order affects personality

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

How birth order affects personality

Personality development is a complex process that is affected by lots of different variables. While it's wrong to say that one factor is solely responsible for developing the personality of a child still you can confidently assume that some factors can affect the personality to a great extent provided that the other factors are constant.

In my last article How parents affect child development i explained how can the parenting style affect the child's personality, in this article i will explain how birth order affects personality.

Birth order and the child's personality

  • The first born, the oldest child: The first born is the one who learns how to take responsibility at an early age because he is usually asked to help his parents with the new born children. The first born usually develops Good leadership abilities and the role of the care taker. The first born also feels threatened by his new born brother because he losses a big part of the attention that he was getting before the arrival of the new child. It's not uncommon for first born children to become jealous of the younger ones and to even lose some of their confidence with the perceived loss of love or attention
  • The youngest child: The youngest child usually competes with the first born on attention and this sometimes leads to intensifying the rivalry between them. Sometimes the youngest child becomes a risk taker because he learns how to do anything to get attention even if it was dangerous. The Youngest child might also learn how to become a rebel because of the frustration he usually experiences when he fails to do the things that the oldest child is doing. The youngest child usually becomes very ambitious and might develop really big goals that could sound unrealistic to others. The youngest child develops that kind of ambition to get over the inferiority feelings they felt when they were the weakest ones in the family. Note that the word inferiority here doesn't refer to any kind of disorder but it's the normal feelings of inferiority a child might get when they find themselves surrounded by stronger and bigger siblings. The youngest child might also become very dependent on the family as a result of spoiling and this might lead to an array of problems including lack of courage, fear to face life and becoming very dependable on others.
  • The middle child: The middle Child suffers the most because he is the one who gets the least attention. He finds himself stuck between the youngest who gets most of the attention and the oldest who gets most of the responsibility. That's why the middle child usually learns how to become diplomatic and calm. His role usually becomes the peace maker who maintains peace between the youngest and the oldest.

Siblings rivalry

Because of the battle for the attention siblings go through they sometimes turn into complete rivals who try to get that attention at any cost.

The biggest mistake a parent can do while raising children is to keep comparing them to each other because that would ignite their jealousy and intensify their rivalry.

Instead of doing that the parents must find out each child's unique talents and help him develop them. Buying three coloring books for the three children might be a bad idea while buying something special for each child that would help him develop his unique skills is a very wise decision.

Large age gaps can change the order

If a child was born then 7 years later another child was born then both will develop the traits of youngest children. When the child grows up and becomes more aware of himself and others then they might not develop intense jealousy when a new child is born. Starting from the 6th year it can be safe to introduce another child to the family without worrying about rivalry between siblings.

When the age gap is very small however the child might have serious problems with the new comer.

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