The First, the Last, and Everything in Between: How Your Birth Order Impacts You

Image of the Dunphy siblings from Modern Family, illustrating how birth order impacts personality and relationships

All eldest siblings are responsible” or “Only children never learned how to share.” While these may be stereotypes, you might have seen how your own birth order in your family has affected your experiences. Whether you're the eldest, middle, youngest, or an only child, your birth order can play a role in shaping your personality. Your place in the family hierarchy can determine how your parents interact with you, what responsibilities you’re given, and even how you see yourself.

Alfred Adler was the psychologist who first proposed his theory of birth order. Since then, a lot of research has shown just how influential it can be. Here are some of the ways that your place in your family impacts you as a person:

  1. The Mini Adults: The Oldest Child

Oldest children often tend to be high-achieving and responsible, as they’re expected to set the standard for their sibling(s) to follow. This can also be a reason behind their perfectionistic tendencies. They often emerge as leaders, since they exercise a lot of power in their house before they are dethroned by any sibling that comes after them. The undivided attention they get early on is a plausible reason around their higher intelligence and abilities.

  1. The Overlooked Ones: The Middle Child

With excellent negotiation and social skills, the middle children are usually the mediators of the family. Often getting lost between the oldest and the youngest siblings, they end up learning to be more independent and flexible. They might tend to feel left out in their family but make a lot of social connections outside it.

  1. The Rebellious Ones: The Youngest Child

Youngest children are often the center of attention. While parents are usually overly concerned with their firstborns, they mellow by the time the youngest is born. Youngest children tend to be fun-loving, spontaneous, and risk-takers. They are outgoing and carefree since they may not face as many restrictions on them.

  1. The Lone Traveller: The Only Child

Only children get undivided attention and affection from their parents for a long time. Since most of their interaction is with other adults (i.e. their parents), they tend to be independent, good communicators, and mature beyond their years. They also have all of their parents’ expectations and support on them, which is why they might be perfectionistic and often prone to anxiety.