Birth order, does it really matter? You have probably debated this question with your friends and family many times especially if you’re describing your children or even yourself. Have you ever found yourself saying something like this, “My child is the oldest, that’s why he or she is bossy!” or maybe you have said, “She’s the baby, that’s why she needs more help!” Many times people use these stereotypes to describe their child’s personality, behaviors, and interests. How as a parent can you ensure that you are not focusing on birth order stereotypes when raising your child? The answer is to be aware of some of the stereotypes.
Let’s start with the youngest child in the family. Stereotypical characteristics of the youngest child: the charmer, carefree, and a risk-taker. It’s normal to be a little more laid back when it comes to your baby. You have had many experiences with your older children, so it’s not surprising to look at certain behaviors that you once thought were not appropriate and now think they are cute just because your child is the youngest. Be careful because you can turn your sweet and innocent child into a stubborn, spoiled, and even lazy child. You don’t want them feeling entitled to getting their way just because they are the youngest in the family. Stick to disciplining and holding even your “baby” to consequences when it comes to their unacceptable choices and behaviors.
Next is the middle child, stereotypically known as the peacemaker and more laid back one. The middle child is also known as being very social or competitive. As a parent you may often focus on your oldest or even younger children more because they are dealing with a lot of first experiences. As the middle child, you must make sure you give them responsibilities and let them know they don’t have to be like their older or younger siblings. Let them be an individual. Don’t force them to participate in activities just because their older sibling has before.
The first-born is often known as the leader and most responsible. Do your best to limit telling your oldest that they have to take care of their younger brothers or sisters. You want them to always look out for them but don’t force or give them so much authority that they begin to feel like they are the parent and not the big brother or sister. Remind them it is ok to make mistakes and they can learn from them. Do your best to not push them to the point that they don’t like being the oldest.
Focusing solely on birth order can be very misleading because birth order doesn’t take into account gender and personality. The best advice is not to believe birth order truly describes your child. Making judgements based on birth order can do more harm than good for any child so teach your child to be an individual no matter their birth order.
Written By: Tiffani Casurra, Staff Writer, Modern Domestic