I was talking to a friend last week and we were marveling at how different each of our oldest children are from their younger sibling.  I found myself wondering how much our birth order really matters. Are first children really more frequently “type A” personalities? Are youngest siblings always  the free spirit? Do middle kids truly tend to make peace? My personal experience has led me to think that these traits often match the birth order of the person I know. That said, even those that exhibit many of the traits don’t perfectly follow the lists of traits for their birth order. I decided to read up on the topic and share my discoveries with all of you!

Most of the articles I read seem to paint a similar picture for each role in the family:

 Oldest Children:pig tail girl FB

  • The leader
  • Rule follower
  • Order loving
  • High achiever
  • Caretaker
  • Perfectionist
  • Fear of failure
  • Inflexible
  • Responsible

 Youngest Children:

  • Charming
  • Popular
  • Playful
  • Great sense of humor
  • Creative
  • Good problem solvers
  • Work hard to prove individuality
  • Loves spotlight
  • Risk taker
  • Sometimes a rebel

 Middle Child:

  • Strong social skills
  • Peace maker
  • Negotiation
  • Great listener
  • Feel replaceable or unappreciated
  • Agreeable
  • Adaptable
  • Eager to carve out their own role

 Only Child:

  • Characteristics of all categories
  • Feels pressured
  • Risk takers
  • Confident

I find myself landing in middle ground with a belief that there is at least some truth to theories about birth order but that there are far too many other factors in our lives for it to be completely accurate. For example, my oldest daughter tends to exhibit traits of both an oldest child and middle child. I think perhaps it is because my two children spend a great deal of time with my youngest sister so sometimes it becomes more of a sibling relationship. The distance between two siblings might also play a role. If a child spends many years as the youngest before a sibling is born the now middle child may hold onto the youngest child traits even after becoming a middle child. I think what is most important is to be intentional about the way we interact with our children regardless of their birth order. We can work hard to be sure our concerned oldest child knows that it is ok to fail sometimes. We can show extra love and attention to our middle child. We can give our youngest boundaries and relax to enjoy their sense of humor. Find the best in our children. Enjoy the gift that they are.

What do you think? Comment on our Facebook page to share your opinion on the topic. Let’s get a conversation started!

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