“Well, all I hear all day long at school is how great Marcia is at this or how wonderful Marcia did that. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” exclaims an exasperated Jan Brady in the classic Brady Bunch episode “Her Sister’s Shadow.” Jan was suffering as the middle child — not as seemingly perfect as her older sister, and not as spoiled as the younger one.
Is there truth to that? Were the other girls better off, or was Jan’s attitude shaped by when she was born?
From child psychology to zodiac signs, parents are constantly trying to predict what type of kid they’re going to have — even before they’re born. However, it turns out that the child’s birth order can shape their personality growing up. Here’s why.
Personality of Youngest Children
If you have a younger brother or sister, you have probably accused him or her of being spoiled at some point. Many people believe that the baby of the family gets whatever he or she wants, but is there any truth to this generalization?
The answer is typically yes, although it depends on the situation.
Parents are generally more likely to let things slide when they’re raising the caboose of the family. This could be because they’re tired after years of strict parenting or it could be because they’re more experienced and know how to relax their parenting style a little bit more. The tendency to spoil the youngest child could also be because parents know they won’t be raising any more kids and want to enjoy the last child as much as possible.
As a result, the lastborn child may grow up to be sociable, affectionate, fun-loving and naturally carefree. These personality traits tend to thrive in lastborn children who are raised in a relaxed and easygoing manner.
However, there can be a negative side. While the need for recognition in lastborn children could potentially lead them to excel and challenge themselves in positive ways, it can also cause them to seek attention by being rebellious. Lastborn children can also be manipulative if they learn they can get what they want by manipulating others.
Personality of Oldest Children
Oldest children often receive harsher discipline than their younger siblings. They also tend to enjoy taking charge, since this is the natural role they fill when younger siblings are born into the family. Firstborn children are often full of confidence and thrive in positions of leadership. They are, after all, the standard-bearers in their families and like to blaze the way for their younger siblings to follow.
Many firstborn children have a strong desire to please their parents, which can lead them to excel in their schoolwork and career. They also tend to be competitive and responsible. Interestingly, the majority of U.S. Presidents are or were firstborn children.
Personalities of Middle Children
Middle children tend to naturally become peacemakers in their families and many develop excellent compromising skills. Like poor Jan, middle children may feel forgotten, since the oldest and youngest children usually get a large portion of mom’s and dad’s attention. Feeling ignored can sometimes lead middle children to act out and become rebellious. However, when middle children are given adequate attention and encouragement, they can thrive quite well and tend to be very likeable and loyal.
Personalities of Only Children
Being an only child can be highly rewarding and yet very tricky at the same time. Only children often feel lonely because they don’t have siblings to turn to. On the flipside, they are often confident and well-spoken because they don’t have to share parental attention with anyone else. They often have greater opportunities to travel and obtain a quality education since their parents don’t need to financially support other kids. However, only children tend to be perfectionists because they only have their parents’ competencies to compare themselves to.
If they aren’t careful, only children can easily become self-centered and have a difficult time compromising. An only child’s ability to share and show selfless tendencies can be fostered by astute parents who refuse to indulge their child’s every whim.