Explaining Birth Order

As a parent, you may or may not have heard of the term “birth order.” This term is usually used to describe the order in which your children were born and how that order influences their personality. You may be curious about whether or not birth order actually has anything to do with personality, and in today’s post, we will explain birth order and how it might affect your only, first, middle, or last child.

Regardless of what order your children were born in, you love them equally and care about their wellbeing, whether that means helping them eat better or sending them to a high-quality early childhood education center. At Sunshine Starts, we are proud to provide affordable child care services to residents of Yorktown Heights and the surrounding area. When you enroll your child in one of our programs, you can rest assured that they are receiving the education they deserve and that our team is helping to foster a life-long love of learning. Explore our website to learn more, and give us a call today to schedule a visit!

What Is Birth Order?

Birth order can be used to understand the personality traits of your children. As you can imagine, your firstborn child is going to be different than your last born child, and an only child can have an entirely different set of traits than children with siblings. Many people place a lot of pressure on birth order to explain their children, but it’s important to keep in mind that birth order is only one of the factors you should consider when analyzing your child’s behavior and personality.

Oldest Children

Older children are stereotyped as being natural leaders, responsible, and the child who matures the fastest. This stereotype stems from the notion that when the first child is born, they don’t have to fight for time with the parents. They have anywhere from a few months to a few years of uninterrupted quality time. While their first child is still their only child, parents often invest more of their time and energy into the firstborn. When another child is born, the older child may feel a sense of protectiveness and responsibility toward their sibling. That being said, you may have an older child who doesn’t fit the role of the mature leader. This could be a result of too much pressure being put on the child at a young age. If the parents pressure the child into meeting their high expectations, and the child fails, then it could set them on a different path than the stereotypical oldest child.

Middle Children

When you think of the middle child, you may think of the classic example of Jan from The Brady Bunch and how she was always overlooked in favor of her perfect sister Marsha. As with most examples from TV, this is an extreme one. In fact, middle children are seen as more of the peacekeepers and the social butterflies of the children in a family. Because they are in the middle of the birth order, they become experts at compromise and negotiation. Additionally, they may lean more on their friends for support, especially if the parents tend to focus more on the oldest and youngest children.

With that in mind, if the oldest sibling doesn’t quite fill the “role” that they are supposed to, then the middle child may step up and take their place as the more responsible sibling. If there are multiple middle children in the family, then you may find that they are slightly different from their siblings. For example, if you have two middle children, then the second-born may try to act like the opposite of their sibling to try to be different. If there are three middle children, then you may find that the first and third middle children are more similar than the first and second.

The Baby of the Family

When parents decide to have their first child, they may feel scared and nervous about what to expect, so they take many precautions and get all of the resources they can find. By the time they have their last child, the parents may have calmed down a bit, as they know what to expect and feel a little more relaxed. For this reason, usually the rules are more relaxed for the last child, yet they still receive plenty of love and attention from the parents. This gives the last child the freedom to get away with more things that the oldest child wouldn’t have been able to, resulting in a more carefree personality. However, this could change if the child resents not being taken seriously, which can result in the youngest child taking on more responsibility or being more social.

Factors That Can Affect Birth Order

It would be nice to know that when you have your first, second, or third child that they are going to have the exact personalities described above, but that’s not necessarily the case. The argument of nature versus nurture plays a role in birth order, and there are a variety of factors that may affect the personality and behaviors of your child. Some of the main factors to consider include:

Gender – When you have two children of the same gender, they need to compete to be different and unique in the eyes of the parent, which is why the firstborn develops traits that may be different than the second born. However, if your first two children are different genders, then there is a possibility for them to both behave like firstborns. Instead of fighting for their roles, they each have their own identity. With that in mind, the second-born even has the potential to eclipse the firstborn, especially if there is a higher value being placed on one gender over the other.Temperament – As you can imagine, temperament plays a huge role in how your child will behave. Your child’s personality has the power to blur the lines of birth order. For example, the oldest children have the pressure of following in the footsteps of their family members. However, if the oldest child is fit for the “job” or they choose to pursue a different path, then it may be up to the other siblings to step up and take charge.

Age Spacing – The number of years between your children can have a huge impact on how they behave and relate to each other. Siblings who are one or two years apart may feel the need to compete with each other, especially if they are the same gender, whether it’s for attention, relationships with friends, or even their role in the family. Children who are born three or four years apart may not feel as much of a need to compete, giving them plenty of room to be themselves. That being said, once you reach a gap of five or more years between your children, experts consider this gap to almost act as a reset button, giving the birth order a fresh start.

“Specialness” – If one or more of your children have special talents or abilities, then they may become the “favorite” of the family, regardless of birth order. For example, if your last born child becomes a musical prodigy or a soccer star, then they may receive the prime treatment from other members of the family, which means that the other sibling or siblings will need to adjust their responsibilities. This factor can also apply to children with disabilities who need extra care. This can disrupt the birth order dynamic, if for example, the older sibling is born with or develops a disability, then the younger sibling may take on the firstborn traits of responsibility.

Learn More When You Visit Sunshine Starts!

At Sunshine Starts in Yorktown Heights, we take pride in offering the high-quality child care services that your child deserves. Children learn best through learning, and our staff members strive to provide a safe and educational environment where your child can develop a life-long love of learning. See what our child care services have to offer, and give us a call to schedule a visit.

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