How Being An Oldest, Middle Or Youngest Child Shapes Your Personality
Only children have a reputation for being perfectionists and high-achievers, constantly seeking attention and approval from their parents and from others.
But children with siblings, too, express unique personality types based on their birth order.
While a number of factors play a role in a child’s development — including genetics, environment and parenting — birth order can also influence their defining traits and behaviors.
Since the 1970s, thousands of scientific studies on birth order have been conducted, but psychologists often disagree about how much of a role birth order actually plays in development. However, some common aspects of the personalities of oldest, middle and youngest children that are consistent across the literature.
Why do these differences occur? Many psychologists have suggested that siblings’ personalities differ insofar as they adopt different strategies to win their parents’ attention and favor. By this theory, the oldest child may be more likely to identify with authority and support the status quo, while younger children are more likely to seek attention by rebelling.
“Kids learn their role in their family,” Dr. Kevin Leman, a psychologist and the author of The Birth Order Book and The First-Born Advantage, told The Huffington Post. “Firstborns are held to a higher standard. As kids come into the birth order, parents loosen up.”
Here’s more on what science says about the personalities of youngest, middle and oldest children:
Firstborn children tend to be achievement-oriented, often performing well in school and thriving in leadership positions, according to Leman.
“Firstborns are the first of everything … and they are the standard-bearers,” Leman said, adding that most U.S. presidents have been firstborn or only children.