First Born In The Birth Order

If you’re a parent, you have a first born. If you have other children, that first born becomes the oldest child. If you have no other children, the first born remains an only child. This is the beginning of birth order and its influence on a child’s development. What might we see in the child occupying that position?

  • serious
  • cautious in new situations
  • tendency toward perfectionism
  • a bit more rigid, believing their way is the “right” way.
  • bossy, especially with younger siblings
  • high achieving, but easily discouraged. a worrier.

Each of those characteristics can be positive or each can be negative. We, as parents, need to understand what makes the difference between positive and negative so we can use birth order theory to help our child.

Serious? High Achieving? A Perfectionist? On the positive side, these children do well in school and have a high level of self-responsibility. On the negative side, they lack a sense of humor, don’t easily relax or play and easily have “melt-downs” at anything less than perfect or even collapse and fail to try.

Cautious in New Situations? On the positive side, they avoid impulsive acts that get other children into difficulties. On the negative side, they overly  limit themselves.

Rigid? bossy? On the positive side, this can be the foundation for leadership skills. On the negative side, these behaviors alienate others.

Why do first born children have a higher incidence of these personality traits? Every child born into a family arrives with their own inner traits but they arrive to different families. For the first born, his or her family is adult (and from a child’s view) knows everything and can do everything. That belief has generally reversed by the teen years but by then much of the personality is formed.

Since all children want recognition as “special”, these first born compare themselves to the adults they live with and with such an age discrepancy, there is no way, as a child, they can catch up.

So what makes the difference between a child falling into the positive or the negative? Children who feel encouraged tend toward the positive, and of course the reverse is true. Children who feel discouraged gravitate to the negative side. One of the important themes in our writing will focus on the many ways to encourage children.


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