Ever wondered how two or three children in the same family can be so different?
They are brought up in the same broad social environment, under a similar set of rules and an identical family value system.
They also come from the same gene pool yet they can be so different in personality, interests and achievement.
While they may be born into the same family they are not born into the same position.
The effects of their birth position have a huge impact on children, their behavior and their personalities. To really understand children you need to know how their position in the family impacts on their development.
Parenting first borns
First borns are often more motivated to achieve than later borns. They are usually the objects of great delight in a family – they are the first. Parents and grandparents often overdo everything with first borns. There is an air of expectancy even before their birth.
Names are chosen half way through the pregnancy and photo albums are filled as baby’s every special moment is captured on film. They are the centre of attention, which is an obvious plus if you are a first-born child.
The flipside to this adulation is that first borns are coached, prodded and pushed to perform. The expectations are high for first borns, particularly first-born boys, so pressure is something they know all about.
First-born boys fear failure so they often steer away from areas where they can’t excel. Interestingly, some first borns confuse excellence with perfectionism and won’t try unless they can do the perfect job.
These kids drive their parents and teachers nuts as they just won’t move out of their comfort zones to take a few risks and even (shock, horror) mess up. This is a first-born thing.
What about me?
Middle born children are victims of bad timing. Born too late to get the perks and privileges of being born first but too early to get the easy ride that the youngest receive, middles often feel squeezed between these two siblings and wonder, “Why me?” or “Its not fair!”
The positive side to middle borns is that as they are squeezed between two siblings they are good negotiators and generally develop an adept set of people skills. They are often more flexible as their lives tend to fit in more with the first born. Also they tend to spend more time with children away from their family to avoid the frustration of being an outsider in the family. Middle children subsequently can end up with more friends than their elder sibling.
Parents need to be aware of the need to make middle children feel SPECIAL. Take photos of just them, and not the whole pack. Make sure you spend time with just them. Help them find their special talent that they don’t share with their siblings (that should be easy as they often stand apart).
Those charming later borns
Youngest children in the family are typically charmers and manipulators. They love to get their own way – and they invariably do. They are in the fortunate position of having a sibling break their parents in for them and they don’t have the pressures of the first born. Their birth is not the big event as was the first born’s arrival. Parents are still thinking of a name when they are putting the birth notice for the youngest in the paper. “Ah what will we call him? Jarrod will do. Yeah, that sounds fine.”
Youngest are often babied, spoiled, affectionate, outgoing and uncomplicated. The pressure is off the last borns in terms of having to meet their parents’ high expectations so they are more likely to achieve in their own ways. Creative, artistic pursuits are full of later or last borns, whereas firstborns are more likely to end up in positions of leadership. One of the traits many last borns share is persistence. They learn when they are young that if they persist with what they want they will outlast their siblings and wear their parents down eventually. Persistence is a characteristic that pays off for this group.
So what's the BIG deal?
The position a child in his family holds is a powerful predictor of your child's personality, status and success. It's a factor that parents need to consider as we look for ways to raise happy, well-adjusted and confident children.
Find out more about each birth order position and how you should parent each child in my fascinating best-seller Why First Borns Rule the World and Last Borns Want to Change it.