How Birth Order Impacts Sibling Personality Differences
Sibling relationships are often an important aspect of development. Being the first, middle, youngest, or only child likely influences the behavior of a child. Each position comes with unique challenges. The first born and second born children are usually very different from each other. A first born child will be raised by trial and error by the parent(s) simply because he or she is the first. With a first born, parents are usually highly attentive, strict with rules, and tend to over-react regarding even the smallest of things. When parents over-react to small things, this may cause a child to eventually become a perfectionist who wants nothing more than to please his or her parents. Since first borns spend so much time around their parents (due to no siblings being around yet), they may act like miniature grown ups, much more mature than their siblings who eventually follow after them. As the oldest child, first borns are often very responsible, aware, organized, careful, leaders, and/or over-achievers. The greatest challenge of being a first born is that a precedent is set that you are supposed to be the child in the home who leads by example for all of the other children. This can be a lot of pressure for a child.
So what about middle children? Parents tend to raise their second child slightly more loosely than they do with their first child due to some experience under their belts by this point. Parents are also able to pay less attention to the second child than they did the first child because now there are two children that require attention instead of just one. With each additional sibling, there is less individual attention that the parents can give. The middle child often becomes a people pleaser because the eldest is given the attention and praise for being the responsible one and the youngest is given much attention as the youngest and neediest and therefor the middle child feels left out and left with a desire to seek attention and praise from the parents or others. Middle children often go through a rebellious phase when they believe that getting attention from their parents is a lost cause or that this is the only way to get attention. They end up turning to friends for attention since they do not tend to find it to the degree they desire in their own homes. Parents are often able to avoid this rebellious phase with the second child by being intentional and making sure the second child gets individual time, attention, and praise just as much as, if not more than the older and younger siblings.
As for the youngest, they tend to be the most care free of the bunch. This may be because the parents have loosened up with the parenting even more so than they did with the middle child(ren) and so the youngest children do not feel as pressured to live up to certain expectations that may have been set with a first born but not with the youngest. The youngest children often tend to be the most outgoing as they are used to being surrounded by their parents and older siblings all who give the youngest attention. The youngest children tend to also be adventurous. This may be because the parents had this child when they were older and more established in their careers. More established in career often means more money, which means a third child will be more exposed to travel or other life adventures than the first child was. This in combination with looser parenting equals some adventurous times for the youngest child that he or she will want more of. Whereas a middle child will often be complicated, a youngest child usually is not. Youngest children can however be manipulative in nature as they become used to getting what they want and learn very quickly how to keep that going.
This leaves children who do not have siblings. These children are often very mature for their age as they are not around other children as often as they are around their parents. They can sometimes be considered boring by other kids their age since they are not exposed to the playfulness of other children in the home. Parents can combat this by regularly arranging play dates with other children for their child. Children without siblings sometimes end up spoiled, wanting for nothing, as it costs less to treat one child to something that it does to treat multiple children. Parents can try to prevent an only child from becoming spoiled by sometime having the child work for what he or she wants or sometimes saying no to the child so that the child learns that we do not always get what we want in life.