Just like your gender and temperament influences your personality, birth order has also been proven to affect personality. Psychologists like Alfred Adler, who was one of the first to suggest that birth order affects personality, believe that there are many factors that influence personality. These factors include, but are not limited to, social status, family situation, gender order of the siblings, religious beliefs, economic status, and general disposition. Adler also suggested that there are four main types of birth orders: first borns, second (or middle) borns, youngests and onlys. Each of these birth order types have a description of the typical personalities and explanation of what may be the reasons behind it.
First borns are usually considered to be serious, conscientious, aggressive and driven. They are often very goal oriented people. They fear the unknown and always strive to have a plan in order. They may be anxious and jealous. First borns can be controlling and enjoy being the leader.
The reasons for these reactions from the first borns are many. They may also feel “dethroned” by the younger siblings who came into their lives and stole the center of attention from them. They may feel unloved through the perceived “loss” of mother’s love to the new baby. First borns are usually put under high pressure by their parents to succeed. They are also often put in charge of the younger children, and therefore learn from a young age to appreciate power.
Second or Middle borns often have the sense of not belonging to the family. They fight to receive attention from parents and others. These children are typically insecure throughout their lives. Many of their actions are motivated by the fact that they have never really been in the spotlight. The second born may be the entertainer of the family or interested in artistic things. They are often good “people” people and may be the glue that holds relationships together. In some cases, the middle child may become depressed or lonely. They look for direction and drive from the first born child.
Adler believed that the second child feels left out of a position of privilege or significance. Second or middle borns may have these reactions because they feel ignored or left out. They aren’t the oldest and aren’t the youngest and therefore never receive the same type of attention as the others. Parents typically don’t pay as much attention to child #2 as they did to child #1.
Youngest children often have the favored place in the family. They are the party animal, the fun child, the entertainer who has no restraints. As the baby of the family, the youngest may be pampered. They have trouble finishing things. They are usually considered to be endearing, delightful friends.
One of the worst things a parent can do to the youngest child is pampering them. This leads to a child that can’t finish what was started, is dependent on the parents, and selfish in everyway. This may even cause youngests to be bossy and control seeking with their peers. Youngests also may have a hard time growing up, as their parents are constantly trying to keep them young.
Only children usually have characteristics similar to first borns or youngest children. They are driven and responsible. They have high goals, as their parents have high expectations for them. They crave recognition for their achievements, which are usually many.
As onlys have no rivals for their parents’ affection, they may be pampered and spoiled. This may cause problems between onlys and their peers at work and school. Most of their negative reactions in life stem from being spoiled as a child.