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A child’s position in the sequence of brothers and sisters is of very great significance for the course of his later life” (Sigmund Freud). Freud was the first psychotherapist to discover that the order of one’s birth is directly related to their personality. Every child acts differently due to the attention they receive from their parents, siblings, family, friends, and society. Even though children are born into the same family, researchers have found that there are strengths, as well as weaknesses inbuilt in each birth position.

The first child is like a first love that can never be duplicated. They are the focus of the parents hopes and dreams, which molds the child into what is known as the “first child syndrome.” Because of the close relationship with their parents, the first born receives in full force their love, standards, attitudes and values. The first child syndrome focuses on achievement and success. They feel extremely obligated to fulfill their parents dreams of them succeeding. The oldest children are the highest achievers in society and have the highest IQ‘s. They are often very serious about their achievements and highly motivated to be successful. Their great need to succeed causes them the greatest educational success and the fewest academic problems. New siblings can have both a positive and negative effect on the oldest child. Due to younger siblings the oldest becomes more independent. Also, the birth of siblings makes transitions easier for the first born. However, the oldest child often feels abandoned by it’s mother when a new baby is brought home for the first time. Although there are many strong points to being the oldest, there are also some downfalls. Because parents focus all their hopes and dreams on their first born, these children often feel pressured to do well. Oldest children also have a fear of rejection and not succeeding in life. Therefore, the firstborn’s childhood shapes their personality.

Many times, because the middle child is not “perfect” like the older sibling, or “cute” like the younger one, he/she may feel ignored by their family. Within their family, middle children are often loners and avoid being compared with their siblings. They feel like they have no reason to exist. Their older sibling receives attention for doing so well and their younger sibling receives attention for being “the baby,” while they receive no attention at all. Almost always the middle child feels caught between not having the privileges the older sibling has, and yet having to be the more mature one when dealing with the younger child. Therefore, they must somehow develop their own identity, different from both of their siblings. The second born may be a pleaser in order to gain their parents attention and approval. But at the same time they can be an antagonizer, as they try to irritate others to be noticed. In any aspect, the middle child tries to be extremely different from their siblings, but with a need for attention. Socially the middle child flourishes. They are usually very popular and well-liked by others. Unlike, their older sibling they put their social life ahead of their academics. In school they thrive to be noticed as they participate in sports and other school activities; in this way they feel accepted by their schoolmates as they are involved. The lack of attention given by their family causes them a sense of feeling unnoticed; this follows with the child throughout their adulthood. Many middle children are described as having a “balanced“ or “well-adjusted“ personality. Both these personalities are caused by the fact that they do not need their parents approval by adulthood. Middle children are not used to always getting their way and not having parents all to themselves, thus causing them to be extremely proficient at negotiating and compromising. Even though at times middle children feel like the “black sheep” of the family, their social life flourished and they usually develop into an outgoing, well-liked person.

The youngest child is always treated like the baby of family, thus acting in that manner throughout their life. The extra attention given to the “baby” develops their childish personality. Because their family has catered to them throughout their life, the youngest is usually spoiled and dependent on others. Youngests often expect, and get, help from others even without asking. They just look helpless causing people to rush to their every need. Most last born children are lighthearted, cheerful, and playful. Because parents are usually more relaxed by the time the second child is born, they put less pressure on this child to walk, talk etc… Last born children are more likely than others to be undisciplined in their personal life, procrastinate continually, and are late or always miss appointments. The youngest child often goes through a worry-free childhood and expects good things in life; they usually end up being great optimists. In adulthood, they are often disappointed when they must be independent and life does not go as they hoped. Therefore, the continual attention the youngest receives molds their personality with both strengths and weaknesses.

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Only children have the best and worst of all possible worlds they are perpetually the over-achieving oldest and the pampered youngest in the family. As a result, they have many characteristics of the oldest child, yet may remain childlike in many ways. Because they don’t have to compete for attention with siblings, they tend to be more at ease with themselves and have high self-esteem. In an effort to make their child a creditable representative of their parenting abilities, parents may strictly discipline an only child. They have only one chance at parenting correctly, and expect the child to be “perfect.” As a result of their parents, only children mature early and miss out on being playful and silly. Parents of only children usually set high expectations, similar to parents of oldest children. Often times only children excel in school and become a “teacher’s pet.” Only children usually feel more comfortable around adults than children. Some become overachievers, while others give up completely as they realize they cannot possibly be perfect. Without other children to worry about, parents usually focus all their attention on the only child. Some only children seek relief from all this adult attention. They may withdraw and become overly independent. Some try to do things quickly before the adults can offer advice or criticism. Many only children resent criticism and avoid doing a task a second time if they had been critiqued the first time. Since only children are the main focus of their parents life, they often grow up expecting a lot from life. They usually have a lot growing up, both psychologically and materialistically. In adulthood, they continue their selfish ways. No matter how successful only children are, they may continue to fear failure and dread letting down their parents. Therefore, the parents of only children mold their child’s personality into that of an oldest child and a youngest child.

Researchers have found that not only does birth order effect one’s personality, but it also effects the friends and spouse one chooses. Most people tend to be friends with people who have the same birth order as them. This way people agree on the same issues and have the same expectations and goals. In addition, researchers have come up with a list of compatible partners for marriages based on personality traits. The list includes a first born husband and a last born wife and a last born husband and a first born wife. The less preferred marriages include a middle child husband and a last born wife, a last born husband and a middle child wife, an oldest husband and an oldest wife, and a last born husband and a last born wife. Research shows that only children are highly compatible with both first born and last born children, since they share similar characteristics of each. Consequently, the order of one’s birth effects every aspect of their life their personality, friends, and spouses.

Forer, Lucille, and Henry Still. The Birth Order Factor. New York, NY David McKay Company, Inc. 176.

Richardson, Ronald W, and Lois A. Richardson. Birth Order and You How your sex and position in the family affects your personality and relationships. Canada Self Counsel Press. 10.

Richardson, Ronald W, and Lois A. Richardson. Birth Order and You Are you the oldest, middle, or the youngest child? Canada Self Counsel Press. 000.

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