Sunday, December 20, 2009

Some Thoughts on The Role of Birth Order and Your Children

The environment that a child is raised in plays a big part in how their personality will  develop. Consequently many child will exhibit different character traits and characteristics depending on their birth order or if they are an only child. Of course birth order doesn't guarantee that your first child will have all or even any of the traits typically associated with  a first child; but birth order tends to accentuate character traits that your child already possesses. 

Of course if there are large gaps between your children or you have one boy  in a family of girls you might have overlapping birth order characteristics. My brother was  the third child but the only boy and he exhibits many of the same first-born traits that I  have.  Here is a table showing some of the birth order character traits, both bad and good, associated with first, middle, last-born, and only children.

Natural LeaderFlexibleRisk-takerClose to parents
High AchieverEasy-goingOutgoingSelf-control
Know-it-allIndependentFinancially irresponsibleDependable
ResponsibleMay feel life is unfairBored easilyUnforgiving
Adult-pleaserStrong negotiatorLikes to be pamperedPrivate
Obeys the rulesGenerousSense of humorSensitive

First-born children desire control and they will typically become a compliant nurturer or a more aggressive mover and shaker. Either way parents need to remember not to demand too much of their oldest child. Make sure your child knows your expectations, because they are constantly trying to seek parental approval.

Letting your child make family decisions, like where to eat dinner or what movie to watch, will help empower them and make them feel special.  Youngest children are usually very different from their older siblings. They tend to be more social and funny. They don't have as much responsibility and are more carefree. They are also often driven to catch up with their older siblings and follow in their footsteps. It is important that parents still enforce the rules when their youngest comes along. It is easy to just let things slide, but once it starts it is hard to stop. Parents often baby their youngest child because they are the last one. 

But it is important to teach responsibility, you don't want your youngest child feeling like they can't or not knowing how to do anything for himself. You also need to applaud their accomplishments, true your older children have already learned how to ride a bike but for your youngest it is a new thing.