There are many different theories by different theorists about Birth Order and The Effect on Personality. Alfred Adler was a psychologist and theorist that were well known for his theories about birth order determining a person’s personality. Adler was classified as the “Individual Psychology” theorist. The birth order plays a very large role in determining personality. There are many other factors as well. The size of a family, a child’s gender (boy or girl), disabilities or physical needs, the child’s temper and the families’ financial status are all determining factors. Also, a person’s cultural beliefs, religion, and traditional values are proven factors that affect personality due to ones’ birth order. Each of the birth orders have characteristics that makes everyone different. The position that a person has in their family gives certain attributes to a child’s development. “Adler believed that a person’s birth order was one of the most important factors in a person’s life and that the place a person occupied in his family was one of the best predictors of the kind of person he would become. For each position in a family, Adler believed that there were positive and negative repercussions, depending on how a person responded to his position.” (Roberts, Holly L. 2011, March 9). Cite
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The Only Child
There are many couples that choose to have only one child. The only child will typically develop tendencies to be introverted due to not having siblings to socialize with. The only child may develop some extroverted characteristics when trying to make friends and learning how to socialize with other children. Attending daycare or school usually helps the child learn how to socialize. The only child does not develop good social skills early in their childhood which results in the child having difficulties in learning, having good social skills and interacting with others. Though there are many advantages of being an only child such as receiving all of the attention from both parents. The only child does not have the competition of having to receive better grades in school or being more disciplined. “The only child is always the center of attention and usually prefers it that way. Since they are never “dethroned”, they are spoiled and can be self-centered. They miss out on the social skills learned by sibling interaction, so they may find it difficult to share or compromise. A great positive trait is that they can be very mature intellectually.” (Guilbeau, n.d.).
The First Born
The first born child usually has characteristics of being a leader. They seek high achievements in everything they do. They also conform to standards and are very conservative. The first born child shows a high degree of organizational skills. The first born is typically well behaved and display exceptional manners. The oldest child or the first born child feels a sense of responsibility to mentor or guide their siblings. The oldest child may also try to take control over their siblings or be an authority figure. Some firstborns will try to nurture their siblings and teach them in an appropriate fashion. Firstborn children have been shown to have the best leadership qualities. Firstborn children will tend to feel dethroned due to the birth of a sibling and be more compliant to their parents. They will also feel the need to please their parents even more and prove their reliability and dependability. “They are often given responsibility for younger siblings and may take on the role of a surrogate parent. Through this role they accept their position of leadership and the power that comes with it. Firstborns may become overachievers in order to set the example for younger siblings and meet the expectations of parents. They are also known to be authoritarian (or bossy according to their siblings). A great positive trait is that they can be very responsible and helpful.” (Guilbeau,n.d.).
The Middle Child
The middle child has characteristics of being attention seekers. They may feel as though they are stuck in the middle, left out or even forgotten about. “Whatever personality trait has been adopted by the first born child, the second child will become the opposite. “The first two kids in any family are night-and-day different,” Leman says. The middle child will often excel at something that the first child is not good at. For example, a first born may be good in school, while the second child is gifted in athletics. Middle children often play the role of the peacekeeper in the family, mediating between the older and younger siblings. The practice that the middle children get negotiating their place in the family typically means they have strong social skills and get along well with others.” (Vowles,2012). The strong social skills allow them to have a lot of friends due their ability of showing compassion and empathy and being good listeners. The middle child has trouble in finding their role or position in the family. They want to feel the recognition for what they have accomplished. The middle child has tendencies to rebel due to the feelings of not measuring up to their other siblings accomplishments. Most middle children do not receive the proper recognition for their achievements because of the parents expect high achievements as those of their siblings. Most middle children have feelings of being unloved due to having to use hand me downs such as clothing that once belonged to their older sibling. The middle child seems to have more independence and is easy going. They do not express their needs or wants to their parents because they feel a lack of importance. The middle child will also behave inappropriately in order to receive some attention from their parents.
The Last Born or Baby
The last born has characteristics of being idealistic, self-centered, and very competitive. They take on more extroverted traits and are very outgoing, friendly and funny. “Frequently spoiled by the entire family. Never “dethroned” and may be accustomed to getting their way. They may seem as irresponsible and a rule breaker. A great positive trait is that they can be very charming and adventurous.” (Guilbeau, n.d.). The last born always demands attention from their parents and siblings. Parents typically do not discipline the last born as they had done with the older children. The last born is viewed as being more affectionate towards others than and not as complicated as their siblings.
Birth Order and Gender
The gender of siblings can also affect a person’s personality and characteristics. If the first-born child is a boy and the middle child is a girl, then the first-born will feel more compelled to protect his younger sister. The middle child being a younger sister to her older brother may develop characteristics of a “tomboy”. She would try to imitate her older brother in a sense of wearing boy’s clothes and playing the same sports as he does If the first-born is a girl and the middle child is also a girl, then they would form a closer bond and be more alike. Though if the middle child were to be a boy, then he may try to imitate his older sister and possibly have more female characteristics.
The Parents Role
Alfred Adler believed that parents must provide the proper attention to their children, but let them make their own mistakes and choices. By allowing children to have some independence, but not neglecting them would teach the child to be successful and thrive to be superior. Children should have feelings of significance and have a sense of where they belong in the family. Parents of first-born children tend to devote more quality time to them and as a result the first-born will have higher intellectual levels. First born children speak on a higher maturity level than their siblings and typically have higher IQ scores. “The best approach, according to this theory, is to protect children from the evils of the world but not shelter them from it. In more practical terms, it means allowing them to hear or see the negative aspects of the world while still felling the safety of parental influence. In other words don’t immediately go to the school principal if your child is getting bullied, but rather teach your child how to respond or take care of herself at school.” (AllPsychONLINE,2002).
“Adler believed there were four types of birth order positions. The oldest child is supplanted by the younger child, which can lead negatively to insecurity or positively to responsibility. A middle child has an older sibling to model his behavior after, which can lead positively to healthy ambition or negatively to rebellious behavior. The younger child is typically showered in attention, which can lead positively to confidence or become spoiled in the negative and confident in the positive.” (Roberts, Holly L. 2011, March 9). Birth order does play a very important role in the developments and effects on a person’s personality. A family’s size, financial status, cultures and traditions also are contributing factors to consider. A child’s gender and temper play a role of the birth order and the effects on personality. They may share many traits and may exhibit some of the same personality characteristics. The parents, role also plays a very large part of their children’s’ personality characteristics due to the birth order of the child. Alfred Alders’ theories on the birth order and effect on personality has shown the different characteristics that develop in the only child, the first-born, the middle child and the last born.
Roberts, Holly L. (2011, March 9). Adler Birth Order Theory.
Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/73327-adler-birth-order-theory/
Guilbeau,N. ( n.d.). The Birth Order Theory.
Retrieved from http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art22888.asp
Voo,J. (2006,August). Birth Order and Personality.
Retrieved from http://www.parents.com/baby/development/social/birth-order-and-personality/
AllPsych ONLINE. (.n.d.). Personality Synopsis.
Retrieved from http://allpsych.com/personalitysynopsis/adler.html
Vowles, A. (2012, October 25). Does Birth Order Affect Personality?
Retrieved from http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/974203/does-birth-order-affect-personality
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