Is there a link between birth order and personality?

Is there a link between birth order and personality?

Have you ever wondered if there is a link between the birth order and personalities of your kids? Find out more about this topic here...

Siblings can have personalities that are so different from each other that if you didn’t know better, you’d think they weren’t related.

Have you ever thought about how siblings growing up in the same family, exposed to the same parents and environment, can possibly be so different?

birth order and personality

Is there a link between birth order and personality?

My two sons, while very young, are already polar opposites of each other. My 4-year-old still needs me to do a lot of things for him. He is obedient, quite responsible and likes looking after his little brother (who doesn’t like being looked after!) .

My 2-year-old is completely the opposite. He’s very independent and has a mind of his own. I can already see that when my kids grow up, they are going to have completely different personalities.

Dr Kevin Leman, a psychologist who has studied birth order and personality since 1967 and author of The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are, guarantees that the firstborn and second born in any given family will be quite different.

birth order and personality

Each sibling will have his or her unique personality and some of this uniqueness may be attributed to birth order.

According to Leman, many sibling personality differences can be attributed to two factors: birth order (if a person is a first, middle, last born or only child) and how parents treat each child because of it. Other experts add that siblings changing behaviour in different ways to get their parents’ attention can also shape their personality.

birth order and personality

The firstborn child may try to always please her parents in whatever she does.

The firstborn child

Parenting a firstborn can often involve a mix of instinct and trial-and-error. Often, new parents stick to the rules quite rigidly, are very attentive and may worry about the slightest thing. This may cause firstborns to be perfectionists and overachievers.

According to experts, firstborns like taking charge and are often very confident about everything. This is probably due to the fact that when they try to do something for the first time (such as riding a bike), they don’t have older siblings laughing at them if they make a mistake.

Firstborns are commonly:

– Reliable
– Conscientious
– Structured
– Cautious
– Controlling
– Achievers

The second born / middle child

Don’t be surprised if your middle child appears completely different from your first born.

Leman says that middle children’s personalities are formed in relation to how they perceive their older sibling. So if the second born thinks his big sister is always in mum’s good books, he may actually rebel or play up to get attention!

Middle children are often:

– Good negotiators
– Independent
– People pleasers
– Rebellious
– Peacemakers

birth order and personality

The last born, or the baby of the family, may be easygoing but a bit mischievous, too!

The last born child

By the time parents have their last child, they are usually pros at child-rearing and are no longer those nervous, first-time parents they once were.

In general, parents are more relaxed and easy-going about things and this attitude often rubs off on the last born child.

However, it’s not all about fun and games for last borns. Because last borns see their siblings as faster, bigger, stronger and smarter, they may adopt an “I’ll show you” attitude, and may be rebellious and headstrong.

As the baby of the family, last borns can be a little spoilt and very charming – and they are usually the most creative.

Last born children are typically:

– Fun-loving
– Uncomplicated
– Manipulative
– Outgoing
– Self-centered

birth order and personality

An only child often tends to be mature and responsible.

The only child

Only children are referred to as “super firstborns” by Leman. But unlike firstborns who get their parents’ full attention just until the next sibling comes along, only children get that attention forever.

As a result, only children will often act older than their years and are used to feeling important. They are often confident, well spoken and tend to do well at school.

Only children are typically:

– Mature for their age
– Perfectionists
– Conscientious
– Diligent
– Leaders

Parents, do remember these sibling characteristics linked to birth order and personality are not set in stone. Many other factors – like genetics, environment, culture and your kids’ peers – can contribute to shaping your children’s personalities.

Do you think there is a link between birth order and personality? Share your opinion with us by leaving a comment.


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