Birth order plays a role in our personal development probably more than we realize. It can affect our self-esteem, the career we pursue, and whom we choose for a mate. The study of birth order is so interesting. Did you know that according to a new study, if you are the eldest child and female, you are statistically more likely to be the most ambitious and well-qualified of all your family? (Feifei Bu at the Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex)
Below are broad generalizations, but consider if it applies to any of your own family members.
FIRST-BORNS First-borns get the most attention but also the most pressure as they may be the result of overprotective first time parents with high expectations. They tend to be dependable, disciplined, ambitious, and analytical. They can be perfectionists who diligently follow rules and want to please authority. They are often successful natural leaders.
Personality Challenge: “Overachiever” – They are usually academically successful but sometimes at the cost of putting a lot of pressure on themselves causing anxiety and a drive to do better.
– Avoid unnecessary criticism that can further aggravate a perfectionist personality.
– Celebrate successes and teach your child how to live in the moment and feel proud inside, rather than depend on hearing praise from others.
Common Career Paths: Technology, science, medicine, and government.
Famous: Oprah Winfrey, Mick Jagger, George Bush, Barack Obama, JK Rowling, Beyonce, Richard Branson, Jane Goodall
MIDDLE BORNS Middle-Borns can often feel ambiguous about their role in the family and may feel that they receive the least attention, whether true or not. Having to navigate between older and younger siblings they are adept at considering others’ needs and feeling and can easily go with the flow. They are generally open-minded, patient, social, and diplomatic. Good at restoring balance. Crave fairness.
Personality Challenge: “Too Agreeable” – They may be easily persuaded and used to following others. They may not feel they have a voice and not being heard leading to rebellious behavior.
– Ensure your middle child has plenty of opportunities to make decisions for the family (ex movie selection on movie night.
– Plan some one on one time with your middle child that includes a lot of focused listening. Repeat back to her what you hear. Take an active interest in her passions for a shared interest.
– Teach your child assertiveness skills so he can stand up for himself. Consider role-playing or self-defense activities like karate.
Common Career Paths: Nursing, education, law enforcement, and construction.
Famous: Abraham Lincoln, Warren Buffet, Judd Apatow, Bill Gates, Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Herbert Hoover, JFK Jr.
LAST-BORNS Last-Borns tend to be charming, uncomplicated, creative, and outgoing. With less attention and discipline, they tend to take a more relaxed approach to life and tend to take more risks. Instead of competing with their older siblings, rather, they attempt to carve out their own niche within the family dynamic.
Personality Challenge: “Lack of Discipline” – Parents tend to slack off after the first-born and last-borns are sometimes “babied” longer than they need to be.
– Insist on following rules.
– Give your last born specific responsibilities to develop self-esteem. At some point the last born is old enough to do it themselves. Let them step up.
– Celebrate accomplishments. Your last-born may not get as much attention or as much praise so go out of your way to celebrate achievements.
Common Career Paths: Art and design, architecture, media, sales, and technology
Famous: Harriet Tubman, Ellen DeGeneres, Howard Stern, Rosie O’Donnell, Blake Lively
Birth order can indeed impact how a child’s self-esteem develops, how a child perceives themselves and their role in the family. Other factors in development include gender, years spacing in between siblings, and number of siblings. While there is still much to learn about the impact of birth order, growing up in a well-loved environment is the most important thing for a child to bloom.