How does birth order affect personality?

In a traditional nuclear family, parents often aspire to more than one child. However, the individual child’s place in the family affects his or her character and parents’ expectations of the child. Although birth order factor might have a different influence if the third sibling is, say, the first son in the family or if the youngest is born a considerable number of years after the rest of the siblings, there are certain similarities between all oldest, middle and youngest children.

Firstborn children are usually very dependable, trustworthy and devoted. Their parents rely on them for help in caring for their younger siblings and have high expectations of them. As a result, they often choose professions that are demanding and require responsibility, such as medicine or politics. On the other hand, since first children enjoyed being an only child for a while, they often resent the subsequent siblings for having to share their parent’s attention. They frequently develop attention-receiving behaviors, such as whining, to forcefully re-gain their parents’ attention.


Middle children are generally more easygoing since they have less parental pressure on them to succeed. They’re usually more independent, developing different interests than the oldest in order to be appreciated for who they are. However, middle children complain that they’re not special: Their clothes are often secondhand and they’re constantly compared to the oldest.

The youngest child is often considered the cutest, yet he or she is the most demanding. He gets loads of attention from his older siblings, all eager to please him. In addition, by the time the youngest is born, his parents’ financial situation is stronger, so he is showered with material possessions. The parents often subconsciously hold the youngest back in order to hang onto their precious baby as just that – a baby. When there is a large age difference between the rest of the siblings and the youngest, the youngest usually enjoys individual attention from his parents, and, as a result, is usually more comfortable in the company of adults than his peers are.