28 Feb

Does birth order determine my child’s personality?

birth order and personality


Often I wonder, if I had a sister would I be the same. I would never know for I had grown up along with two elder brothers. Growing with two brothers, I was more extrovert and daring but I miss sharing my secrets. I remember my close friend at school. How she would wish that she had been a single child. Not only she has to share her toys, but also look after her younger siblings in the absence of her parents. Being first born, middle or last born has its own advantages and disadvantages. An insight into the birth order can help us to make changes in our parenting style.

Birth order and personality traits:

The birth order our child is born will have a certain influence on emotions, behavior, and personality. The differences can be observed as we parent them. Let’s understand the personality traits and characteristics of children based on the birth order.

1. First-born child: “I make the rules.”

The first-born child is like a gift to the parents. The parents, as well as the whole family, fuss around and celebrates the arrival of the first born child. The child is the center of attraction and gets the undivided love of his parents until the arrival of a sibling. The love and attention boost his self-confidence and sense of security.

birth order and personality
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Traits of the firstborn:

The firstborn spend more time with parents and adults. They may have the following traits-

1. Reliability

2. Well organized

3. Natural leader

4. Logical

5. Believe in authority

6. Goal oriented

7. Self – reliant

8. Self-sacrificing

Characteristics of the firstborn child:

As a child:

The firstborn as a child exhibits leadership qualities since he is made to share and sometimes entrusted to take care of his siblings. Though he is a child, the parents take his opinion on family matters. The siblings look up to their big brother for protection and advise. Parents expectations of the firstborn are more. He is pressurized to excel in academics as well as extra-curricular activities. The firstborn child experiences emotional upheaval on the arrival of a younger sibling when all the attention is diverted from him to the baby. He has to share his things with others. He is pressurized to be an achiever and whenever he fails to do so, he is made to feel ashamed.

As a grown-up:

The firstborn is like the head of the family after the parents and takes up their responsibilities. The parents have high expectations and want him to succeed so as he is the role model for his siblings. He doesn’t get the opportunity to explore or experiment. When the financial situation of the family is not good it is the firstborn who takes up the job or gets into the family business early to support his younger siblings. And whenever there is a conflict between the siblings, he has to mediate. His opinion matters when it comes to education and marriage of the younger siblings. Sometimes he feels frustrated as he had to sacrifice his own interests and opportunities for the sake of the siblings.

The middle-born child: “ I’m the reason we have rules.”

The middle born child is the younger sibling to the firstborn until the arrival of the last born when she becomes the middle born. Before the arrival of the last born, she has the privileges of being the younger sibling. With the arrival of the thirdborn, she becomes the middleborn. She will look at her elder brother or sister as a role model and at the same time has to act as a big sister to her younger sibling.

birth order and personality
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Traits of the middleborn:

The middleborns do not have many hang-ups as firstborns or lastborns. They have their own individuality. The traits of the middleborn are as follows –

1. Adjustable

2. Good mediators

3. Good at relationship

4. Social

5. Balanced

6. Diplomatic

7. Lower expectations

8. Independent

Characteristics of the middleborn child:

As a child:

The middle-born child is neither spoiled nor protected. We have to sympathize with them who get caught in a no man’s land. They can’t get away as the bossy first-born or the angel last-born child. They have to struggle to make their presence felt in the family. The attention of the parents is less towards the middle-born child and as a result, he/she is independent and makes their own decisions.

As an adult:

The middle born is fiercely independent and is the first to leave the house as an adult. At the same time, she understands the conflicts and relationship issues that bog the firstborn or the last born since she has been observing them from childhood. The middle born is easy to adjust and has a balanced personality. She is the person who can keep secrets and secretly keeps the family from falling apart. But then she also feels left out as the family does not take her seriously. As an adult, she carves her own path and becomes the achiever. On the other side, she may be a loser blaming her parents for the lack of encouragement as shown to the first born and the last born.

The last-born child: “Rules don’t apply to me.”

birth order and personality
image source – http://willingness.com.mt

The last born child is the baby of the family, pampered by parents and siblings. He is excused when he breaks the rules. He is the center of attraction and if ignored, seeks attention by throwing tantrums.  No way you can keep him out saying he is too young.

Traits of the last born:

1. Charming

2. Social

3. Extrovert

4. Attention seeking

5. Self-centered

6. Fun loving

7. Spoil brat

8. Manipulative

Characteristics of the last born:

As a child:

The last born receives that extra bit of love and pampering since he is the baby of the family. Sometimes he is an unplanned child making an addition to the well-settled family. The pressures and discipline are relaxed when bringing up this child. He becomes the spoiled brat, butting into the affairs of his elder siblings. The last born is smarter than his elder siblings and he learns by observing them. He will spring many surprises and is a born actor.

As an adult:

As an adult, the last born will be the last to move out. He will choose an unconventional profession and surprise his family. Being used to having his own way, he faces problems in the relationship. He is an expert in garnering support when faced with problems. At the same time, the last born is social, affectionate, outgoing and uncomplicated as a friend or colleague. Everyone loves him for his free spirit and being in the spotlight.

As a single-child:

Due to many circumstances such as financial, health, job etc., many parents opt for a single child. A single child will have many plus and minus points as she grows without the company of siblings. She will enjoy the attention of her parents without any competition or sharing. She will have the best of everything whether it is toys, dresses, schooling, extra-curricular activities etc. If the parents are not mature, they can spoil their only child with too much love and affection. As a result, she may become selfish, demanding and unwilling to share. On the other hand, if the parents are aware of parenting skills, they will be conscious about how they parent their single child. The single child will have such traits as independence, creative, resourceful, leadership etc., for she has to spend more time alone or in the company of adults. She can exhibit the characteristics of both the first born and the last born. She craves for the company and when she is with a group of her own age she is social, friendly and helpful.

birth order and personality
image source – https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

As an adopted child:

An adopted child will have a different personality and challenges compared to the natural born. She will be a mix of her genetical traits of her birth parents and the traits acquired from her parents who adopted her. This will play a major role in the personality of the child which only time and circumstances can tell. When there are siblings who are natural born or adopted, many differences are visible. The parents make efforts to bring up the child as there own and protect her from sarcastic comments by friends and family members. An adopted child may be full of doubts and questions, once she gets to know about her status. It is the parent’s duty to clear the doubts and answer the questions of their child about adoption.

A child in a blended family:

A child who is bought up in a blended family has a great opportunity to interact with families who are directly or indirectly connected. He may have to adjust with the step-parents and half brothers or sisters. He has to connect not only with his natural parents and their families but also with step-parents, their children and relatives. The families stay together or in close proximity. The child gets an opportunity to observe and interact with children and adults who may or may not be in their direct relation.

step parenting
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Children born after a long gap:

When a child is born after a long gap, he is the star of the family. He is showered with love and affection to the extent of being spoiled. The parents are not much stressed because their first-born child is out of his/her early years. In fact, they help their parents with chores for the newborn. There would be no sibling rivalry and the child enjoys the attention of his big brother in addition to his parents. The elder child becomes more independent and this gives the parents more time to spend and connect with their younger child.


Parenting is a tricky situation when you have to bring up your kid without him/her being labeled as partial. Again it is not necessary that only the birth order decides the personality of the child. Surely, it has a psychological influence but genetics and inborn traits also play a major role in shaping the personality of the child. The parents can move away from the stereotypical parenting and evolve a new style which best suits their child’s personality and temperament.

Radhika is a freelance poet, writer and teacher settled at Secunderabad. She is also a life skills trainer for children. Her articles and poems have been published in Woman's Era, Teacher Plus, The Hindu and websites like wow parenting. Her husband Rayudu and son Prashanth support and inspire her in her endeavours.