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Birth order effects on personality
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#1 back*again

Posted 19 December 2012 - 09:42 AM

Okay this is a bit of a spin off the "only child" thread.  A few of the posters were disagreeing with stereotype personalities caused by birth order (e.g.-the middle child syndrome).

I think birth order plays quite a big role in shaping a child's personality.  For example,

the first born is often the "sensible" child, over cautious and quite responsible.  
Second born is the opposite to their older sibling, they are usually less cautious, more sporty & more outgoing (however, if this definition fits the 1st born, the 2nd born is the opposite).  Usually child #2 & #3 play together more happily than they do with #1.  
Usually child #4+ get along better with #1.  Children at this end are more arty and free spirited.
Also
Middle child-"left out" sort of kid.  Grows up with a chip on their shoulder.
Youngest-perpetually spoilt and babied.

I think birth order can play a powerful role in personality.  However, it's not written in stone.  WDYT?

#2 Ally'smum

Posted 19 December 2012 - 09:57 AM

There has been quite a lot of research on this, have you seen this book?

http://shop.abc.net.au/products/why-first-...nt-to-change-it


#3 The Old Bag

Posted 19 December 2012 - 10:07 AM

I can only speak for my own family where we have the stereotypical 'alpha' first child (high achiever, precocious) followed by your classic second child syndrome kid.... class clown, troublemaker, not interested in anything academic or indeed anything big brother is good at.

So it makes sense from my own experience but I'm sure that for every textbook birth order kid, there is another who breaks the mould!

#4 witchesforest

Posted 19 December 2012 - 10:16 AM

hmmm in my family there were 4 of us:

i am the eldest - fairly responsible, quite maternal, practical and sensible, a bit of an arty/intelligensia type interestest in politics and the environment etc.

next brother is sporty and very social, a 500 facebook friends, party hard type of guy. very non academic. in fact he was going to repeat year 12 after he failed at one point purely to play football again...

next brother after that is a maths genius with zero communication skills. the two brothers have never gotten on and are the only ones who fought as kids.

and my little sis is the one i get on best with (partly cause she was born when i was 12 so we have quite a maternal type relationship), she is very social AND super academic and is at doctor school right now as well as having her 6 million facebook friends.

so yep, our family pretty much fits the theory.


#5 JuniPooks_

Posted 19 December 2012 - 10:24 AM

Interesting. I have certainly seen birth order stuff play out in my own circle. *anecdote alert* DP and I are both first borns, both more sensible and conservative when you get right down to our desires for our own lives (kids, mortgage, big screen tv, sensible family car, sensible shoes and money management, job security and the odd holiday), whereas our youngest siblings (we are both from families of 2) are far more the socialites who don't plan too far into the future and are focused on having a good time, earning money, going out, having nice things. There are always the massive exceptions to the rule but generally speaking there seems to be something to it.

#6 Chelli

Posted 19 December 2012 - 10:25 AM

With my girls the first one is cautious, sensible and motherly. The second one is a free spirit, bit of an introvert who couldn't care less what others think of her but popular with her peers. The third one is sporty, outgoing and is influenced by others around her.

#7 jks91

Posted 19 December 2012 - 10:40 AM

In my family, yes for sure!

I'm the eldest and definitely fit the responsible, over cautious description.  Very much a high achiever at school,  perfectionist, eager to please everyone.  Had a part time job at 14 and saved money to buy a car by 15, had P Plates by 8.20am on my 17th birthday, went on school ski trips and visited friends interstate (though we were very low income so if I wanted anything extra really I had to work to pay for it).  Moved out young (19) and into a stable relationship.  Dynamic in  their household changed instantly when I moved out, the younger two were 15 and 10 at that time.

In saying that Mum always said I was the most difficult child to deal with, her and Dad were always at school dealing with various issues I had (bullies, personality clashes with teachers etc) and for the past few years she has been insistent that I probably have ASD and it was never investigated due to a lack of knowledge as a child and girls generally hiding it better.  

Middle brother is the only boy so this is where I'm not so sure about whether he had the classic 'middle child syndrome'.  As a child he was definitely more outgoing but in his late teens this became less so (very interested in gaming and didn't leave the house unless he absolutely had to).  Nothing really phases him and he never really had plans for the future...dragged to the licencing centre by Dad to get his Learners, never wanted a part time job to save for anything big.  Mum always said he was the easiest child.

He and my youngest sister are very close, despite there being five years between them.  They have lots of similar interests and as teenagers this has become very very apparent.  Also probably to do with me having left home by this stage.

My youngest sister (I believe) is babied a lot but I believe that has to do with her having severe medical difficulties that made her unable to attend school or play sports.  She is very interested in the world, the environment but definitely not in the same way that I was interested in politics and reading newspapers as a small child.  She is very social and likeable, gets along with everyone.  

We definitely fit the mould, with the exception that being the only boy has saved my brother from middle child syndrome.  Agree 100% with the book title "Why First-Borns Rule the World and Last-borns Want to Change it".  Haven't read the book but just from the title I'd say we're true to that.

I think also where our parents sit affected how we got along with them, Mum is the middle child (and only girl) of 3 and Dad is the youngest of 3 boys.  I used to always argue with them that they had no idea what it was like being the oldest child and the difficulties that came with that but now they admit I was probably right.

#8 Livsh

Posted 19 December 2012 - 10:41 AM

I thought the whole birth order thing had been dismissed as pop-psychology bollocks?

This is just one paper from pubmed
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22581677

I think the issue is we see what we want to see. We pick the traits in our children that fit our perception. My MIL is terrible at this in terms of gender. My DD can spend hours playing with trucks with DS, but the second she picks up a hair clip MIL is "see she is a girly girl, there is nothing you can do it's biology".

Another more incidious consequence that I saw in my own family, both my Mum and Dad believed that as the first born I would be a high achiever, and then they made it their lifes work to ensure that I would be at the detriment to my sister (who got pregnant at 14 and dropped out of school). They actually said to her "it's hardly surprising, you're the second child"...wrong, so many kinds of wrong!

#9 Goggie

Posted 19 December 2012 - 12:05 PM

Doesn't ring true in my family. There are 4 of us:

Oldest is a total eccentric, flits from job to job, is loud and rambunctious and is very self centred and doesn't have much consideration for others.

2nd child is maternal, cautious, a high achiever and the backbone of the family.

3rd child is quiet, cautious but career driven, sporty.

4th child (me) is fairly reserved, not sporty, and do not get along with my eldest sister at all! I also wouldn't say I was arty, I like to read and cook but not what I'd call creative.

So no, I think the theory is just a theory and so many families I know break the textbook!

#10 TinyTeddys

Posted 19 December 2012 - 12:15 PM

With my boys, the OP's description of a first and second born are spot on (but mine are the other way round). DS2 is perfecting the 'poor me' act despite me trying to stop it. DS2 & DS3 play better together than DS1 & DS2 however when DS1 is not around DS2 misses him.

#11 Magnus

Posted 19 December 2012 - 12:25 PM

Like Livsh, I have also read that this theory has been dismissed by most psychologists. So, I'm not sure that I believe it.

In my family, we fit very well into the stereotypes, though. I am the eldest- sensible, cautious, academic, etc. My younger brother is very outgoing, hedonistic and popular.

#12 CherryAmes

Posted 19 December 2012 - 12:30 PM

Doesn't fit our family at all. I have heard that when it's a large family it's a bit different though. But my eldest brother is definitely not the responsible and settled one, no way at all!

#13 Mozzie1

Posted 19 December 2012 - 12:43 PM


QUOTE (witchesforest @ 19/12/2012, 11:16 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
hmmm in my family there were 4 of us:

i am the eldest - fairly responsible, quite maternal, practical and sensible, a bit of an arty/intelligensia type interestest in politics and the environment etc.

next brother is sporty and very social, a 500 facebook friends, party hard type of guy. very non academic. in fact he was going to repeat year 12 after he failed at one point purely to play football again...

next brother after that is a maths genius with zero communication skills. the two brothers have never gotten on and are the only ones who fought as kids.

and my little sis is the one i get on best with (partly cause she was born when i was 12 so we have quite a maternal type relationship), she is very social AND super academic and is at doctor school right now as well as having her 6 million facebook friends.

so yep, our family pretty much fits the theory.


This is uncanny - my family is identical - girl, 2 boys, another girl, with similar age gaps. The personality traits carry through as well, although my little sister is very maternal.

Also, interestingly our group of friends noticed a few years ago that we are all eldest children, except for one only. And we are all bossy-pants that want to rule the world wink.gif


#14 Gudrun

Posted 19 December 2012 - 12:56 PM

It fits my kids generally speaking.

When we lived in Sweden I remember filling in some general bureaucratic forms where you said where you came out of how many. So I put 1/4. I assume there was a reason for this.

#15 IsolaBella

Posted 19 December 2012 - 01:03 PM

QUOTE (Livsh @ 19/12/2012, 11:41 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I thought the whole birth order thing had been dismissed as pop-psychology bollocks?

This is just one paper from pubmed
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22581677

I think the issue is we see what we want to see. We pick the traits in our children that fit our perception. My MIL is terrible at this in terms of gender. My DD can spend hours playing with trucks with DS, but the second she picks up a hair clip MIL is "see she is a girly girl, there is nothing you can do it's biology".

Another more incidious consequence that I saw in my own family, both my Mum and Dad believed that as the first born I would be a high achiever, and then they made it their lifes work to ensure that I would be at the detriment to my sister (who got pregnant at 14 and dropped out of school). They actually said to her "it's hardly surprising, you're the second child"...wrong, so many kinds of wrong!



For me it is the same as star signs and your personality.

My big brother is the outgoing risk taker. I am the quiet conservative middle child and my little sister well she is just 'special'. My little sister and big brother get on the best.



#16 Funwith3

Posted 19 December 2012 - 01:04 PM

Mine are classic examples and it always amazes me that all three children are from the same parents!! Eldest is very clever academically, very good at sports, quite reserved, very maternal, overall really well behaved.

Number two from the moment she was born has been hard work - moody, dramatic, determined, very popular, very affectionate and very loud!!!

Along came number three: quiet, placid and generally just goes with the flow...in and out of the car all day and just sleeps anywhere.

#17 Flashheart

Posted 19 December 2012 - 01:09 PM

Not remotely true for my family of 5 siblings

#18 Justaduck

Posted 19 December 2012 - 01:11 PM

Nah not really the case here, it seems to come down to parenting more than birth order in our families.

DP and I are both first borns, our siblings (I have a brother, him a sister) are both 5yrs younger than us. In my family, I have worked since the day I legally could up until I was 36 weeks pregnant. Job was low paying though. Left home at 16. Fiercely independent and know how to run my own life. I did own a house, but when ex & I split I sold my share to him.

My brother didn't get a job until a little later on. He went on to TAFE & now at 19 he is on a $55k+ yr job and is being sought out for a $70/k yr job. He however is not quite as wordly, has never had a gf that we know of, doesn't socialise much outside of the internet and is still waited on hand and foot. I pushed away from the affection and I think Mum made up for it all with him.

Both DP and his sister weren't really taught much about independence. She burns Maggi Noodles, has had one job for one day and that was enough for her. She is 18. Parents pay for her to live at uni, buy her everything & she destroys things when they are a bit 'old' so she will get the newer version bought for her. DP has no idea with things that have to be done...pay bills, buy groceries, saving money to keep aside for an emergency. If they need something, Mum & Dad pay for it.

Like PP I find we all fit the moulds of Star Signs funnily enough

#19 Jane Jetson

Posted 19 December 2012 - 01:18 PM

It's never fitted me. I'm an eldest who's a complete rebel and who's pretty much rejected almost everything my parents ever stood for. (They are very conservative.) And my youngest sibling acts much more like a typical oldest. He's an actual grownup, not like his big sister.

I read one of the supposed significant authority books on this, but it kept accusing me of being a conservative, cautious stick-in-the-mud held in thrall to my parents' ideologies, so I cracked the sh*ts with it and it got thrown across the room. Made quite a satisfying thump as it hit the wall, as it was quite a big book.

#20 JediMindTrick

Posted 19 December 2012 - 01:34 PM

Not true in my family and I think it's a load of rubbish to label anyone as anything and put an expectation on them as to how or who they will be.. frankly, it GMTS.




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