While raising children is an exciting and rewarding experience for parents, it can be a mysterious and confusing time in your life as well. There are so many things that influence kids to behave the way that they do, some of which seem completely inconsequential to parents. One of the mysteries that baffles some parents is well known to seasoned childcare professionals and scientists, however, and that’s the role in which birth order plays in the development and personality of a child. These are 10 facts about the effect of birth order on the eldest children, some of which may shed new light on behavioral quirks and personality traits of your firstborn.
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They’re More Reliable – First born children are often expected to look after younger siblings and take on a greater role of responsibility than children born into the family after them, and as a result they often grow into more reliable and dependable adults.
They Tend to Be Higher Achievers – Almost half of all United States presidents have, to date, been first born in their families. In contrast, only four have been last born children. High achievers tend to be eldest children, who place a higher value on achievement and success than their younger siblings.
They’re Natural Leaders – When a child is born first, she’s generally something of an authority figure over her younger siblings. That dominance often becomes a hardwired personality trait, which leaves them more likely to find themselves in positions of leadership in the adult world.
They’re More Likely to be Perfectionists – Unlike younger siblings, who tend to have a more relaxed approach to life, first born children are more likely to be perfectionists, often setting almost impossibly high goals for themselves.
They’re Not as Likely to Rebel – Alfred Adler, the father of the birth order psychology movement, asserted that older children often feel “dethroned” by new babies in the household and, as such, may be more likely to actively seek the approval of their parents and the other adults in their lives. In many cases, this drive to please continues throughout adulthood and they’re less likely to be rebellious as teenagers.
They Benefit from Teaching Younger Siblings – When firstborns teach their younger siblings new skills or information, they’re benefiting from what’s known as “the tutor effect.” That’s one of the reasons why firstborn kids tend to be higher academic achievers and to pursue intellectual careers as adults.
They Care More About What People Think of Them – Free-spirited people who aren’t concerned with what society as a whole or even the people closest to them think about their choices tend to be younger siblings, as firstborns generally have a very real drive to be people pleasers.
They Value Organization and Order – Firstborns are more likely to be list-makers, organizers and to bring order to their surroundings than their more haphazard, disorganized counterparts who are lower in birth order.
They’re Self-Motivated – Because of their desire to please and determination to succeed, older kids tend to be more self-motivated than their younger siblings and to require less encouragement to work towards the goals they’ve set for themselves.
They’re Individuals – There are more studies on the subject of birth order than one could shake a stick at, but one thing that holds true across the board is that there’s more at play than simple birth order when it comes to determining a child’s personality. Genetics, for instance, will have some role in the habits and methods of a person’s behavior, as will environment and other important factors. Knowing a bit about the typical firstborn pattern is helpful, but be careful not to box your child in with expectations that may not hold true in her particular case.
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