Did you ever wonder whether your personality would be different if you were the youngest child instead of the eldest? Would your sister have a brighter outlook on life if she were eldest? Would your brother be more circumspect if he were the middle child? While gender, personality, and spacing between children can significantly influence the effects birth order has on your personality, birth order still has a lot to do with how you view and respond to the world.
The Firstborn as Leader
Parents are often extremely attentive to their firstborn because parenting is such a new experience. When parents enforce rules stringently and pay attention to every detail of a child’s life, the child may develop perfectionist tendencies.
The firstborn also tends to take a leadership role among his siblings. He might be a bit jealous if his younger brothers and sisters attract too much of their parents’ attention.
Firstborns Who Deviate From the Norm
Sometimes firstborns head off on their own paths, abrogating their typical leadership role. This can occur if the firstborn feels he hasn’t fulfilled his parents’ high expectations, but remember – genetics also play a strong role in how personalities develop.
The Middle Child as Peacemaker
Middle children tend to be peacemakers among their siblings. With a strong tendency to want to make other people happy, they often end up sacrificing their own desires to please others.
Middle Children Who Are Ignored
Because parental attention is often focused on the demanding oldest child or on the more needy younger child, middle children may feel ignored. As a response, they often are more likely to reach outside the family for friendship.
The Easy-Going Youngest Child
The youngest child benefits from the experience his parents have gained with his older siblings. As a result, the parents are less rule-driven and more lenient, resulting in children who are more relaxed.
Lastborns as Attention Seekers
Because parents are more relaxed with the rules for their youngest child, he may feel the need to seek attention by acting out or becoming a performer. This tendency can be exacerbated in large families where parental attention is split between many kids.
The Only Child
Only children combine some of the characteristics of firstborns and youngest children. While they get a lot of attention, they may also feel as if their parents are always watching or judging them.
While birth order can have a significant effect on personality traits, it’s certainly not the only thing that does! A good family environment with positive influences and interactions makes a huge difference, and genetics have a powerful part to play as well. So for those of you wondering about what might have been, relax! Whoever you are, you’re wonderful.