Does Birth Order Affect a Child’s Personality Traits?

The vast majority of studies have shown us that birth order affects both our children’s personalities and character traits regardless of whether they’re a boy or girl. There have been a large number of trustworthy books, websites and publications written that document and establish that the sibling position in the family plays a significant role in differences in the personality of a child. Obviously then, their birth order goes on to affect many aspects of their life in adulthood!

Before we give you some of the most obvious traits for each child in the birth order, let us mention that these are very general and can vary greatly depending on many factors in each specific family. Although these birth order traits are found to be true in a lot of families it is important to note that there are many cases where it simply doesn’t happen for one reason or another. It’s strongly correlated with parenting styles and age differences among sibling. For example, the closer that each sibling is in age to the other, the less distinct the differences will likely be. Likewise, the further apart they are the stronger the trait differences could be.

It is also possible to have two different combinations within one family if there is a wide gap between sets of children. For example, a family may have two or three children that are close in age. Then several years go by before they have another set of kids and this sometimes creates another birth order separate from the first set of siblings.

It is the changing home environment that determines the differences. Each child is being brought home to a different dynamic. The only child suddenly becomes the big sister or brother. The attention he had to himself is now being shared with a new sibling.

The baby of a family is moved up (or down!) to being the middle child and finds himself being required to share toys and attention. Just being forced to share mom attention is often a tough change to accept!

It is also very normal for parents to become more relaxed in their parenting style as they are on their 2nd, 3rd of 4th child. The cold of the third born child elicits a dramatically frantic response from the first stuffy nose of the their first child. Parents usually are overprotective and learn that babies are not as delicate as first believed.  So the family structure and essence develops and changes with each new addition to it.

It is interesting and helpful to see the birth order traits in your family because it may help you understand how they see themselves and where they may need extra encouragement and attention. If you are able to know why your child is acting out it will give you more confidence in helping them navigate their feelings.

Here are some of the personality traits and characteristics that the researchers have discovered to be common among children according to the order of birth.

Only Child Personality Traits

•    Confident
•    Like to be the center of attention
•    Can be demanding
•    Often introverted – likes privacy and quiet time
•    Is not naturally inclined to share


First Born Personality Traits

•    Leader
•    Organized
•    Bossy
•    High achiever

Second Born Personality Traits

•    Competitive from trying to out-do older siblings
•    Often rebellious
•    Tries to be different from siblings

Third Born or Middle Child Traits

•    Easy going
•    Peacemaker
•    Generous and kind


Baby of Family

•    Expects to be helped
•    Creative
•    Often a risk taker
•    Can be easily bored
•    Has a good sense of humor

For more parenting articles please visit our blog page where we provide tips to guide you through the parenting year.