June 2, 2009

Birth Order


I was recently listening to a podcast the other day and they were talking about birth order. I've heard of it before but never really looked into it. It's really interesting, and while it wont work for everyone, for me, much of what was said is true. I'm a middle child of three and the characteristics of a second child and middle child are as follows, I've put the ones I believe to be true about myself as a child or now, in bold.

Second Child
  • Never has parents' undivided attention.
  • Always has sibling ahead who's more advanced.
  • Acts as if in race, trying to catch up or overtake first child.
  • If first child is "good," second may become "bad."
  • Develops abilities first child doesn't exhibit.
  • If first child successful, may feel uncertain of self and abilities.
  • May be rebel.
  • Often doesn't like position.Feels"squeezed" if third child is born.
  • May push down other siblings.
Middle Child of Three
  • Has neither rights of oldest nor privileges of youngest.
  • Feels life is unfair.
  • Feels unloved,left out, "squeezed.
  • Feels doesn't have place in family
  • Becomes discouraged and "problem child" or elevates self by pushing down other siblings.
  • Is adaptable.
  • Learns to deal with both oldest and youngest sibling.
It's so fascinating and if you think of it, it just makes sense, a lot of these character traits just come naturally because of how a person fits into a family. A lot of it fits for my siblings as well as my children. I also read that when a last born or baby of the family is 7 or more years apart from the previous child, they take on the characteristics of an only child.

Birth Order Typical Characteristics
Only Child
  • Pampered and spoiled.
  • Feels incompetent because adults are more capable.
  • Is center of attention; often enjoys position. May feel special.
  • Self-centered.
  • Relies on service from others rather than own efforts
  • Feels unfairly treated when doesn't get own way.
  • May refuse to cooperate.
  • Plays "divide and conquer" to get own way.
First Child
  • Is only child for period of time; used to being center
    of attention.
  • Believes must gain and hold superiority over other children.
  • Being right, controlling often important.
  • May respond to birth of second child by feeling unloved and neglected.
  • Strives to keep or regain parents' attention through conformity. If this failed, chooses to misbehave.
  • May develop competent, responsible behavior or become very discouraged.
  • Sometime strives to protect and help others.
  • Strives to please.
Second Child
  • Never has parents' undivided attention.
  • Always has sibling ahead who's more advanced.
  • Acts as if in race, trying to catch up or overtake first child. If first child is "good," second may become "bad." Develops abilities first child doesn't exhibit. If first child successful, may feel uncertain of self and abilities.
  • May be rebel.
  • Often doesn't like position.
  • Feels "squeezed" if third child is born.
  • May push down other siblings.
Middle Child
of Three
  • Has neither rights of oldest nor privileges of youngest.
  • Feels life is unfair.
  • Feels unloved, left out, "squeezed."
  • Feels doesn't have place in family.
  • Becomes discouraged and "problem child" or elevates self by pushing down other siblings.
  • Is adaptable.
  • Learns to deal with both oldest and youngest sibling.
Youngest Child
  • Behaves like only child.
  • Feels every one bigger and more capable.
  • Expects others to do things, make decisions, take responsibility.
  • Feels smallest and weakest. May not be taken seriously.
  • Becomes boss of family in getting service and own way.
  • Develops feelings of inferiority or becomes "speeder" and overtakes older siblings.
  • Remains "The Baby." Places others in service.
  • If youngest of three, often allies with oldest child against middle child.
What's your birth order? Do you find these typical characteristics to be true at all?

11 comments:

  1. Mom of 210:54 PM

    I am one of those very few kids whose position can't accurately be defined!!I am the middle child of 5 kids...2 before and 2 after me but because the eldest 2 were boys and their was a big age gap between each of us,therefore I enjoyed the privileges of the youngest child and was soooo much pampered as daddy's little gal for 7 whole years before my sis was born...to my sis and my bro after her I was playing another completely different role.I was the young mama...and it was sorta rehearsals for me for the role I'm playing now..I admit I benefited from that a great deal..
    Thanx for the post,looking at my brothers and my kids ,I found it 100% authentic !!

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  2. My husband and I are both the first born and that creates a lot of problems (haha just look at the explanation of first borns) Ya... dead on!

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  3. Um Travis, That is the same here! omg I agree with you...lol...
    and Mona, I'm sorry. Remind me great topic for discussion this summer...

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  4. Ermmm ... 3/8 accuracy for mine. I actually gang up with my middle sister against my first brother. :P

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  5. I can see a lot of those behaviors and traits in my children, however, how the parents deals with the children as far as praise and doling out attention, etc. plays a big part in the appearance of those behaviors and traits. I would say that the practices of the parents is actually the main factor in the appearance of these behaviors...I doubt these characteristics are something that kids are just naturally born with. Allaahu A'lam.

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  6. Mom of 2, wow mashaAllah, interesting dynamic.

    Umm Travis, Ha, I believe you.

    Eman, I'll try to remember!

    Hajar, see that's not great accuracy but I guess it's just in general.

    Asiya, I agree, parent need to be fair in attention etc. I don't think anyone is born with these traits and that's not what they're saying though. Just that the characteristics usually show up because of the order of birth.

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  7. That's my point, I don't think it's the order of birth that's the determining factor, but I do think parents however are naturally inclined to certain behaviors towards their children because of their birth order, which, as a result, creates these traits in the children. You see the difference? The children's development of these traits depends on how the parents deal with each one of them. I think the solution to this "phenomenon", is for the parents to learn how to deal fairly with each of their children, regardless of birth order. Easier said than done, I know! May Allaah help us!

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  8. Asiya, Oh I see what you're saying. Yea I think that it is indeed hard to treat the "baby" the same as the oldest but also it's just natural for the oldest to have more responsibility or to watch over the others for example. It's a slippery slope but I for example being a middle child which is arguably the shortest end of the stick, I'm fine and don't have any hard feelings or anything as an adult. Some must, I suppose but not everyone wallows in it and some have it harder than others. All in all birth order isn't necessarily a problem, just an observation. I'm rambling now.

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  9. eh I don't completley agree with the majority of those stereotypes. I really feel like people often become what's expected. Think about it, from the beginning parents treat their children a certain way whether consciously or subconsciously which may lead to how the child's personality and characteristics develop.

    I'm a 2nd child of 4 and am not to fond of the 2nd child listings.

    *pouts*

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  10. PerplxinTexan, Yea, I mean it doesn't work for everyone and I agree, how parents treat kids does shape them, of course even if it's subconsciously.

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  11. Like PerplxinTexan
    I'm the 2nd child of 4 but I do 'fit' into a majority of it.

    My older brother and first born, does have a good deal of my parent's love because he was the 'first'. However, since I'm the oldest daughter, I also feel authoritative and it's either me and my older brother who go against our younger sister (stereotypical third child) and younger brother (accurate youngest child) or girls vs boys.

    But it's usually my mother's love that has favorites. My father equally ... spreads the love? yeah..

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Thanks for commenting!