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Does Birth Order Really Matter?

By Kate Gardner

Yesterday, my daughters were watching a cartoon in which three sisters were competing to come up with the best invention. In the show, the three sisters each make a case for why things are hardest for them (the youngest, the middle, the oldest). My girls were practically bouncing off the couch declaring how right their cartoon counterparts were and how hard their own lives are. But is it true? Does birth order have that much impact on our kids' lives? I turned to for some answers. 

The Oldest

Firstborn children are often described as mini-adults. They are typically:

  • Cautious in social situations
  • Controlling, especially with younger siblings
  • High achievers and prone to perfectionism
  • Reliable

Evidence suggests that many firstborns do have these traits because first-time parents may be putting in more work than they do with later kids. Firstborns also have at least some time when they have parents' attention all to themselves. 

The Middle

Oh, middle child, it's hard to pin you down. You don't get the same attention as your older sibling and you're not the baby of the family anymore. Research finds that middle children can often be: 

  • Somewhat rebellious 
  • Friend-oriented with large social circles
  • A peacemaker
  • People-pleasers

Middle children may have a hard time figuring out what makes them special and how to get positive attention from parents. As a result, they may push boundaries more than their siblings.

The Youngest

The youngest child, the baby, can usually be described as fun-loving. They are also: 

  • Uncomplicated 

  • Manipulative (not afraid to fake an injury to get some attention)

  • Outgoing

  • An attention-seeker

The youngest child may be used to getting a lot of attention from parents and siblings as the baby of the family. They may also be more free-spirited because their parents are more hands-off than they were with older children. 

The Only 

Some kids don't have any siblings at all and this may affect their personality as well. Only children show a lot of the same traits as oldest children: 

  • Reliability
  • Leadership
  • Perfectionism

They may get a lot of attention from their parents but only children can also feel as though they are under a lot of pressure to be a perfect child. 

It's hard to say who has it worst. I'd like to think nobody has it "worst" and that they each will get about the same attention and praise as the others (though not all at the same time). For now, I think I will be sure to tell each of them how special they are and grab an extra minute or two to snuggle. 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Mt. Juliet, Tenn. 

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