Victoria Michelle Bean
Introduction to Psychology
December 1, 2011
There has been much debate about whether or not birth order can impact a child. Does the order in which children are born really play a role in their personality and behavior? Does whether you are the oldest or the youngest in your family factor in with all the other many factors in your life in developing your personality?
Birth Order: Does it Impact Us Psychologically
Have you ever wondered if the order you fell in your family played any part in how your personality developed? “The first person to suggest that birth order was important to a child’s psychological development was a psychologist named Alfred Adler who worked in this field during the early twentieth century,” (Vercillo, 2011). The belief is that the oldest child will end up taking on an unusual level of responsibility while the youngest in the family lack the need to take on any responsibility. There are several different birth personalities: first born, second born, third born, forth born, only child, middle child, and “the baby.” Each one of these has distinct characteristics associated with them.
Someone who is the first born may exhibit characteristic traits such as, attention-seeking, authoritarian, strict, perfectionist, logical, organized, strong need for approval from those in charge, conscientious, respectful to parents and adults (Reilly). The oldest child often bears the brunt of responsibility for the younger siblings (Vercillo, 2011). I have seen this in my own family, as well as myself, being the oldest. Growing up I was responsible for my younger sister. My parents even went as far as to blame me when she acted out or disobeyed stating I had not set a good enough example. With my own children; I saw this a lot in my stepdaughter. Whenever her and her brother would come to see us, she was always trying to take care of him. Watching his every move and even attempting to discipline him if she felt he had disobeyed. It took quite a bit of work to help her “let go of the rains.” Then she fell into the “middle” child role, which I will discuss a little bit later.
The characteristic of the other birth order personalities really depends on how many children are in the household. We will assume for now that there are four children in this household in describing these next characteristics. A second child my exhibit characteristics like perfectionism, competitiveness, rebellion, extreme sibling rivalry or flexibility, and compromise (Reilly). While the third child may be strong-willed, even tempered, may have trouble finding his/her place in the family, friends are extremely important. They may try to be the peacemaker or be baby like, this is typically believed to be use to having things their way, having things taken care of for them and therefore they do not develop a sense of responsibility (Reilly). They tend to act as if “mommy will fix it” about everything in their lives, from speeding tickets to relationship problems. They are often spoiled and expect to receive what they want when they want it (Vercillo, 2011). Now with the middle child, you may see someone who has a hard time figuring out “who they are.” They often are competing with both the oldest and youngest siblings; this will often cause the middle child to do “anything” to gain attention (Vercillo, 2011). The middle child also may feel invisible or unimportant. With my own son, I have seen feelings of not being good enough and negative self judgment. He feels that if someone does not like him, it is because there is something wrong with him or he has done something to cause them to not like him. It is his fault they don’t like him. The middle child shows many of the same characteristics as the second and third child. It is a difficult place to be, in the middle, never old enough…