How birth or­der in­flu­ences char­ac­ter

In the Moment - - Wellbeing -


Only chil­dren are in a very priv­i­leged po­si­tion. They’ll have had their par­ents’ un­di­vided at­ten­tion, which means they prob­a­bly de­vel­oped ex­cel­lent lin­guis­tic skills, and were quick to learn. Their sta­tus should have made them self-suf­fi­cient and in­de­pen­dent, and pro­vid­ing they are ex­posed to other chil­dren from an early age, they should also have strong so­cial skills. “I would have liked a sib­ling,” says 23-yearold Sarah,* “but I don’t think I missed out through not hav­ing one. My mum had loads of friends who had chil­dren at the same time, and my two cousins lived round the cor­ner, so I have al­ways had a great so­cial life. I have one friend who I’ve known all my life, and that friend­ship means the world to me – maybe on a sub­con­scious level I sought out and found my own sur­ro­gate sis­ter.”


The rst-born sib­ling can of­ten be more anx­ious and con­sci­en­tious than their younger brothers or sis­ters, mainly be­cause new par­ents can be over-pro­tec­tive. They will have a strong drive to achieve – born from striv­ing to re­gain any parental at­ten­tion they felt they lost when the sec­ond child came along. Ac­cord­ing to Linda, rst-born sib­lings “love to act as teach­ers and car­ers. Given the chance, they’ll take charge of their younger sib­lings, is­su­ing in­struc­tions and mak­ing de­ci­sions about who does what, giv­ing them a sense of con­trol.”


Mid­dle chil­dren are usu­ally quite well-bal­anced and will be able to com­mu­ni­cate with both younger and older chil­dren eas­ily, mean­ing that they of­ten act as the bridge be­tween their sib­lings. As the so­cial lev­ellers of the fam­ily, they tend to be peo­ple pleasers. Nine-year-old Felix, who is sand­wiched be­tween two sis­ters, says he some­times feels he is in a lose-lose sit­u­a­tion – hav­ing nei­ther the priv­i­leges of the old­est or the in­dul­gences of the youngest, but his sta­tus as the only boy prob­a­bly min­imises any neg­a­tive ef­fects of be­ing in the mid­dle.


Those born last tend to have more free­dom than their sib­lings, be­cause their par­ents are more con dent and re­laxed about their par­ent­ing skills. They can be more dis­or­gan­ised than their sib­lings, and may also give up on tasks they nd dif­fi­cult, ex­pect­ing oth­ers to step in and nish them for them. While they may en­joy be­ing looked af­ter, there will prob­a­bly come a time when they rebel against their sib­lings and want to step out of their shadow.

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