Birth Order and How It Affects a Child’s Personality


Your children have inherited the same set of genes from yourself and your spouse. So technically, they cannot be too different right? But think again. Other than in the looks department, many psychologists are saying that birth order plays a part in shaping a child’s personality. And this stems a lot from how parenting styles shift with each new family addition and the roles siblings adopt at home.

The firstborn

The firstborn provides his or her parents their many “firsts” in the parenting journey. Gushes from parents make the firstborn feel validated and motivated to achieve more. First-time parents are also more cautious and play by the book. As such, firstborns tend to be a conscientious and perfectionist bunch. They are also bossy and controlling at times.

With no siblings to vie for parental attention, firstborns monopolise most of his or her parents’ time. As a result from this one-to-one adult interaction, firstborns tend to act like little adults.

The only child

The only child commands all of his or her parents’ time. Undivided attention showered on the only child can make him or her more self-centered than if he or she were to have a sibling to share with. However, they tend to be more mature as compared to peers their age with siblings.

They are also a diligent lot who expect a lot from themselves. It is almost as if they can feel the weight of their parents’ expectations on them. Because they do not have siblings, the only child has to learn to be comfortable spending time alone. This alone time fosters a creative streak in them.

The middle child

The middle child tends to feel out of place because the older child will continue to command a lot of parental attention as he or she will be the first to enter kindergarten, primary school and all the other “firsts” at home, while the youngest is seen as the baby who tends to get away with things. This makes the middle child feel like second or even third fiddle at home. It is easy for them to feel left out of the equation.

However, this also means that the middle child is usually more independent and often very different from the firstborn. On the whole, they tend to be people-pleasers in their bid to win at relationships. But there are obviously exceptions to this. If the middle child differs in gender from the first and third child, the middle child almost qualifies as the firstborn. Family dynamics will play out differently as parents and siblings will regard him or her differently.

The youngest child

Parents tend to adopt a more laid back parenting approach on the youngest child. Expectations on the youngest child also wane in contrast with expectations set on the eldest in the family. For this reason, the youngest child is more easy-going and free-spirited. However, they can also be very feisty. This is so if older siblings are tough cookies who do not render the youngest one any special privileges at home.


Having said that, such stereotypes are mere inferences. The correlation between birth order and personality is a subject that will still be debated until there is real evidence to support it. For now, there is no saying that a child has to display certain characteristics simply by virtue of his or her birth order. As one can imagine, many other factors come into play in shaping a child’s personality. As parents, it is important that we help each child feel valued and loved no matter what.





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