There are lots of stereotypes out there about how birth order affects personality. Firstborns are said to be quiet and well-behaved, they’re pretty much blamed for tricking the parents into daring to have another assuming the next one would be just as placid. Younger siblings are said to be assertive, they know what they want and they’re not afraid to demand it. They’re about as different as first children can be. And as for the middle-child, well, they’re supposed to spend life feeling well and truly left out. But is there any truth in the stereotypes?
Does birth order affect personality?
Numerous research studies have been carried out to determine whether birth order affects personality and the results are varied. Though it was once accepted as common knowledge that birth order would play some part in determining your personality, recent studies have disproved this theory. A 2015 study concluded that birth order had little impact on personality outside of intellect.
Older children consistently score higher on IQ tests, this is thought to be because first time parents are more likely to spend time educating their child. Younger siblings tend to spend more time engaged in play with their older siblings, whereas first born children were likely to spend that time learning with parents.
Other than intellect, recent studies have not found any link between birth order and personality, so you can stop worrying about your middle child. It does make sense, however, that birth order would have some impact on the environment your child is born into even if this does not affect each child in a uniform way. A toddler with older siblings, for example, will have a very different home life than a toddler who is an older child.
Having an older sibling not only affects how you spend your time, it also means you have an important early relationship with a non-adult, which is likely to be very different to the close relationships of a child with only parents in the family. By the time a second or third child arrives, the parents are likely to be less anxious about things. Years into your parenting career, you won’t experience the same rush of terror when your child climbs the big slide. You may find your second child enjoys independence and freedom a little earlier than your first child did.
So while birth order will not necessarily impact upon your child’s personality, the home environment will. A child with older siblings will undoubtedly benefit in many ways from being part of a larger family though they miss out on those glorious first years as an only child revelling in all of the attention.
Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.