Birth his findings in the book, “Born
Birth order and the effect it has on your personalitySome parents often wonder, what, if any, effect birth order will have on their children’s personalities. Genetic factors and other influences play a significant role, but the birth order within the family plays a larger role in determining the personality of children. Countless academic studies say your place in the family is such a strong factor in developing your personality that it can have a major influence on the rest of your life.Alfred Adler, an Austrian psychiatrist and former disciple of Freud, acknowledge environmental influences such as social class, geographic origin and relationship with parents as factors in the development of personality. But it was birth order and relationship with siblings that was the single most reliable predictor of human nature (Udall).
Joy Berthoud, author of “Pecking Order,” had read and been convinced by this and researched and confirmed it. “I am a journalist and wanted to stand it up myself,” she says. Hundreds of interviews later, she had her proof. “Without exception, everyone I spoke to displayed the characteristics of their position in the family pecking order.” There are many variables, she was quick to point out, dictated most notable by age gab and the gender of the children.
“A girl with a sister two years her senior will be closer to the model of the second child than a girl with a brother ten years order, who might well display more of the characteristics of a first or only child” (Udall).Frank J. Sulloway, researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has studied the differences in sets of siblings throughout history.
He recorded his findings in the book, “Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics and Creative Lives.” In almost every case Sulloway found that siblings seemed to seek different roles in the family. If the first child was feisty and active, and the second child would be significantly more likely to be quiet and sensitive and vice versa (Brazelton).Firstborns, Sulloway conclude, were likely to be more conforming and traditional, identifying with their parents’ power. In most cases, they were tough-minded and determined, driving toward success.
They were likely to be responsible, achievement-oriented and organized (Brazelton). First born children often receive a good deal of attention from their parents, but many are also subject to especially high expectations (“Parenting- Children”). Frequently, first born have school success, are often bossy, overbearing and rigid. Since first time parents tend to be anxious, apprehensive and demanding, their children are affected.
They get the full love and attention of their parents, but they are also subject to strong expectations of family standards and values (“Birth order and your child”). The oldest is filled with self-confidence and usually enjoys being a leader and dominating conversations. They also tend to be good nurturers, high achievers, adult-oriented and reliable (Payton).”During World War II,” Dr. Frank Sulloway explains, “most major political leaders were first born or only children, including Roosevelt, Churchill, Mussolini and Stalin.
Adolf Hitler is an exception, but only a partial one. He was his mother’s first surviving child, and she. . .
favored him over two older stepchildren. . .
(Cook).”A book called “Birth Order Blues” by child and family therapist Meri Wallace, is a on the issue that predicts children’s behavior by the order in which they were born. Besides describing the characteristics of each child, Wallace’s book also offers parents strategies of what to say and do if their kids are suffering from birth order blues (Payton).Problems that might occur with the older children is that he or she feels dethroned by the birth of a new sibling or they feel a loss of privacy. Signs that the oldest child is suffering is he or she constantly abuses their younger sibling physically and verbally. They often yell, “It’s not fair,” when accused of starting a fight or when asked to do something.
“There is a constant demand on the older child,” Wallace said, “You’re the oldest, you are an example. It can cause a lot of stress on the child.”Some of the solutions that Wallace suggested was to be alert to the child’s reaction when a new baby is brought home. Address the feelings that the child has about the birth of the new sibling right then to prevent hostility, anger and resentment later on.
Parents should treat the kids equally, neither will feel resentment for the other nor be able to claim that one is getting special treatment (Payton).Middle children are often left feeling like the odd one out, not having the attachment to their parents that their older sibling has but also not being the baby of the family, who gets the attention heaped on them. This often provokes attention-seeking behavior and can lead to depression or even paranoia in later life (Udall).
Many middle children feel overshadowed by their older and younger siblings. Their efforts to compensate often affect their personality development (“Parenting- Children”). With parents less available to them than to first born, middle children seem to be more laid back in achievement and more relaxed.
Sometimes they need to be manipulative to satisfy their needs and are good diplomats and quite friendly (“Birth order and your child”). The middle child tends to be a mediator and negotiator (Payton). The intensity of their struggle for identity as a middle child will depend on the sex of the child. If they are the same sex as the first born, the struggle will be more pronounced (“Birth order and your child”).The middle child sometimes suffers from the “middle child syndrome.
” “They often have identity confusion,” Wallace said. “They feel like I’m not the oldest, I’m not the youngest. . .
who am I?” He or she may often feel left out. Most of the parents’ attention is either focused on the oldest because they are always doing new things or on the baby because they need more attention. If the child throws temper tantrums to get attention or wants to change his or her look to carve out an identity for themselves.
He or she may also try to achieve in something different from his or her other siblings. All these are signs that the child is suffering from the “middle child syndrome.”To help the child cope with his or her problem Wallace said, “Encourage their identity.” Pay special attention to the child and don’t let the older and younger child dominate the conversation. Also spend time with them, “You must monitor the amount of time that you spend with your children to make sure that the middle child does not fall through the cracks (Payton).
“The youngest child doesn’t have to worry about dethronement and can consequently focus on the road ahead with no distractions. He or she might well catch up with or even over take older siblings. But, being pampered might undermine his or her ambition (Udall).
To secure their parents’ attention, younger siblings learn to be outgoing, to think “outside the box.” Knowing this its no surprise that later-borns tend to be more politically radical (Fidel Castro was the second oldest) and have had their fair share of scientific breakthroughs. Examples: Charles Darwin, Nicholas Copernicus and Benjamin Franklin (White).
The youngest children often benefits form the company and protection of older siblings. They are about to gain considerable social skills because of their interactions with older siblings. The youngest is often charming, lighthearted, and playful. They do have a need to be nurtured and sometimes has difficulty in accepting responsibility (“Birth order and your child”).
The second born or youngest child suffers form feelings of inadequacy. Since this child is younger, he or she has a feeling of “I can’t measure up.” Because the older child tends to dominate the relationship at an early age, the second born may shy away from being a leader later on in life because he or she feel like they have to step back. Signs the second born or youngest child is suffering from birth-order blues: Won’t speak up because he or she doesn’t think their opinion is as valued, they may hesitate to perform a certain activity because they see their older sibling doing it well or under achieves at school. Or on the flip side, becomes extremely competitive to prove his or her value to the family.Some possible solutions to these problems are to help him or her to understand and explain to them that when his or her older sibling was their age, they couldn’t do those things either. Also avoid labeling or comparing the kids and intervene when the older sibling puts the younger one down.
“This way you are protecting the younger child, while giving the message that you expect the same standard of them,” according to “Birth Order Blues (Payton).” Only children are in their own category. Their dependence on parents keeps them closer to parents into adulthood.
They are uniquely self-confident, usually do well in school, and often feel special. Only children tend to be leaders and to achieve high positions (“Birth order and your child”). Only children are similar in many ways to first born children, but their behavior is not changed by dethronement. Constant contact with adults give them social maturity but emotional immaturity.
The strong parental relationships can be supportive and encourage self-confidence, but it can also be claustrophobic (Udall). Despite the occasional tendency towards megalomania, the traits associated with only children are positive, says Dr. Woolfson, a child psychologist. “On the social side at school they have as wide range of friendships as any birth order. And statistically they’re less likely to need psychological help in childhood. Most people assume an only child is a shame, but it’s really not the case (Cook).
“Other experts, however, play down birth order connection. Trying to understand a person by their position on a family tree is like reading an astrological chart – unscientific and unreliable. “There are a lot of inconsistent finding,” said Alan Delamater, director of clinical psychology at the University of Miami/Jackson Children’s Hospital. Other influences, such as parenting and the child’s temperament, are more powerful in determining personality, he said. Sulloway doesn’t discount parenting and genetic-temperament.
But he maintains, birth order is crucial (“Birth order and your child”).Birth order like every other factor in the development of the child, can and will differ from the norm for some children. You can have a child of any birth position who may or may not show the typical characteristics.”Birth order and your child.
” Familylinks: At Parent and Child Guidance Center. 6 March 2001.Brazelton, Berry.
“Why are siblings often so different?” The Washington Times, 4 February 2001, D1.Cook, Emma. “No more like you at home.” Independent on Sunday 12 January 1997, pp 7.”Parenting- Children.” CNN Health In-Depth.
6 March 2001.Payton, Chevonn. “Birth order may provide clues to understanding you kids.” The Kansas City Star 29 June 1999.
Udall, Elizabeth. “How the family pecking order affects you.” Independent, 16 September 1996, pp 6,7.White, Donna Gehrke. “Birth order say more about your personality than many other determinants, a study finds.
” The Miami Herald, 10 August 1999.