Does Birth Order Matter?

So many myths and so much have been said about the birth order in children yet nothing has been proven scientifically. Scientific research on the social phenomenon of birth order naturally leads to generalizations. Your own experience may completely align with the findings, or you may totally disagree with the general data. Even experts disagree on the importance of birth order research. Nevertheless, the information is worth some thought.

Birth Order convetional beliefs

Birth order appears to significantly impact children’s personalities. In fact, researchers and parents generally agree on the following stereotypes:

  • First children: rule-followers, high achievers, natural leaders, adult-pleasers, and know-it-alls who can be organized, punctual and responsible.
  • Middle children: peacemakers and perfectionists who can be flexible, easy-going, social, independent, secretive, indecisive, adaptable and perceive that life is unfair.
  • Youngest children: risk-takers who can be competitive, self-centered, creative, outgoing, funny, spoiled, easily bored and adventurous.
  • Only children: Leaders who can be mature, demanding, dependable, sensitive, self-centered, spoiled.

Yet some factors seem to modify these conventions, including the number of children in the family and their age gaps, their gender, their temperament, family illnesses, life changes, such as divorce, blended families, death, financial gains or losses and parents’ own birth orders.

First Children: The Highest Expectations

Many parents have higher expectations for their oldest child. In some situations, the parents become excessively critical of their firstborn. A parent who relentlessly criticizes the eldest child can dramatically alter the child’s path to becoming a reliable and confident leader. According to a study firstborns’ IQs tend to be higher than those of their younger siblings.

Middle Children: The Hardest To Describe

Generally, the middle child is the opposite personality of the firstborn and different from the other siblings.

Youngest Children: The Least Disciplined

By the time the youngest becomes a teenager; parents are more laid back and too worn out to be disciplinarians. This supports the commonly heard complaint from the oldest. They believe they would never have gotten away with the behaviors of their younger brothers and sisters. When our youngest child behaves poorly or speaks disrespectfully, we tend to ignore it.