Birth order often determines what choices we make in many of our daily decisions. As we change and grow emotionally, we can learn to adopt other ways of decision making. But in looking at the behavior of small children while they are in a group playing together, the birth order will be easy to see. I have collected the following articles about birth order with a short excerpt from each.
1. From Wikipedia (10/25/2011):
“Claims about birth order effects on personality have received only mixed support in scientific research. Such research is a challenge because of the difficulty of controlling all the variables that are statistically related to birth order. Family size, and a number of social and demographic variables are associated with birth order and serve as potential confounds. For example, large families are generally lower in socioeconomic status than small families. Hence third born children are not only third in birth order, but they are also more likely to come from larger, poorer families than firstborn children. If third-borns have a particular trait, it may be due to birth order, or it may be due to family size, or to any number of other variables. Consequently, there are a large number of published studies on birth order that vary widely in quality and are inconsistent in their conclusions.”
2. In my 8 years of writing for 30 blogs, The Modern Mama Memoirs was a truly amazing blog. Carolyn Gomez’ capture of the birth order characteristics is very thorough. From Carol’s writing in The Modern Mama Memoirs: “Birth Order Characteristics: Are the Family Cliches True?”:
If You’re the First Born …
The first-borns often are high achievers and are very conscientious, reliable, and loyal. They’re also scholarly (not all the time, though) and feel better being in control of a situation (I know I do).
Why? The parents. It’s the first baby and while there’s a lot of excitement and anticipation on the parents’ part, there’s also a lot of pressure and demand from them to be the best.
This can result in two basic types: compliant and wanting to please, or strong-willed and aggressive. (It’s possible to have traits of both.)
First-borns often have to grow up fast and become “little adults” before they’re ready.
If the first is a female, she may be another “mother” to her siblings. If there’s a youngest brother, he may be “mothered” by sister—even through adulthood! With the oldest brother, however, it’s mutual respect and a friendly rivalry.
A special note: “Only” children tend to have first-born characteristics, only more intensified.
Here are a few tips for coping with the first born status:
1. Relax. (Can be too active. This is very true, for many are workaholics.)
2. Learn to say no. (Don’t try to do everything and be everything to everyone.)
3. Don’t aim for perfection.
4. Keep paying attention to details.
5. Keep being organized.
6. Develop a sense of humor.
If You’re the Second or Middle-Born …
Second and middle-born’s tend to be a bit opposite of first-borns. A middle child can be: a loner, quiet and shy, sociable, outgoing, friendly, laid-back, a peacemaker, aggressive, very competitive, or not at all. (Basically unpredictable.)
Their behavior traits are not as firmly etched as the first-borns, for their role model is usually not the parents much, but their friends. Friends are very important to this birth order. Also, the middle-born (and seconds) can observe the first-born and pick up some traits there, or decide to go in the other direction.
Although they’re far more outgoing than first-borns, middles are the most secretive. They’re also the most monogamous of all birth orders (My middle brother really takes to children and married life) and have less hang-ups. (There’s not as much parental pressure to succeed.) In essence, they’re very balanced.
They have excellent people-oriented social skills and often make great managers and leaders because they understand compromise and negotiation.
If You’re the Youngest …
Now a few words about the youngest, last but definitely not least in the family. These are true “people persons” or life of the party. The babies are often charming, friendly manipulators who have a large desire to make their mark on the world. They’re also rather absentminded, and tend to have real highs and deep lows. They crave attention and are often the family clown or entertainer. People-oriented vocations are their forte. This group makes great salespeople.
Last-borns can be cocky, however, and they don’t worry about the after-effects of their actions or decisions. While they’re uncomplicated and affectionate, they can also be rebellious, temperamental, spoiled, and impatient.
This birth order could benefit by learning to be neat, accepting more responsibility, be less self-centered, and admit their faults without blaming others. In addition, try not to hog the spotlight.
Some variables can affect the above descriptions. For instance, if there are several years between the first and second child, the second child will have some characteristics of a firstborn. Or, if the firstborn is a girl and the second a boy, the son will have some first-born characteristics because he is the family’s first male offspring. Sibling deaths, adoptions and blended families can also upset the traditional birth order.
Children are all different and have to be parented in different ways. Dr. Leman recommends the following as a guide to parent kids by their birth order.
Parenting The First Born
Don’t Be an Improver: Your child already feels the need to be perfect in every way. “Improving” tasks your firstborn attempts on her own will only increase the pressure she places on herself. For instance, let’s say you ask your oldest son to make his bed. Being a firstborn he will, of course, seek your approval and want you to see the finished task. If you tell him it looks good but then proceed to fluff the pillow and straighten out wrinkles in the bedspread, you send the message that he could have done better.
Take Two-On–One Time: “Firstborns respond better to adult company than children of any other birth order. Firstborns often feel that parents don’t pay much attention to them because they’re always concentrating on the younger ones in the family. Make a special effort to have the first born join you and your spouse in going out alone for a treat, or to run some kind of special errand.” (from Leman’s book “The New Birth Order Book.”)
Don’t Pile On Responsibilities: Older children often feel as though they do much more work around the house than their younger siblings. Share the duties and errands as soon as young children are capable. And, stay away from making your first born the family’s instant baby sitter. Check with his schedule, just as you would an outside babysitter.
The rest of this post is continued here.
In the next few days, I will be posting from my birth order definitions taken from my Changemaker Test. I wrote it in 1992 and have put it on a separate blog, Learning Your Labels.