Psychology is such an intense and complicated process, but it can actually be one of the most fascinating. Psychology has always tried to uncover how the human mind and behavior works, and it is always finding out something. As times and information evolves and changes, experts in the field are always hard at work uncovering more about how the brain works and how nature vs. nurture can play into who we become as a person. A lot of child development involves psychology, and the idea of nature vs. nurture is at the root of it all.

Nature in psychology refers to genetic traits that we are born with. Things that we cannot change, and how they shape who we are. Nurture refers to the environments that we are faced with and this could be something as simple as rural and urban living, and go as deep as how family dynamics and relationships shape who we are. Something that is at play with both of those may be the idea of ‘Birth Order Psychology,’ and the idea that where you are born into a family can change who you become as a person.

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This is something that has been applied to oldest children, middle children, youngest children and even only children, and it is one of the most fascinating theories in child and human development.

The Science Of Birth Order

The science behind birth order and birth order psychology is something that has been around for decades, but it all started somewhere. According to WebMD, birth order psychology was first developed and studied by a researcher named Alfred Adler. He developed this theory in the 20th century and the claim is very simple.

He claimed that the order in which a child was born into a family shaped their development and who they would become as a person. That it would dictate their traits and personality and that family, community and society played a large role in it as well. There are still a lot of psychologists who believe that this is a real thing and that it has an impact, so let’s explore what they say about a person’s birth order.

The Oldest

According to Better Help, the oldest child can exhibit some of the same traits as an only child, and that is because they are the only ones who have lived without a sibling around them. Their most common traits tend to be a natural leader, a high achiever, organized, bossy, responsible, an “adult-pleaser” and is more likely to obey the rules. They often have a lot of pressure placed on them by the adults in their lives and are pressured to be the “example” for their younger siblings to follow.

The Middle

Middle children already have their stereotypical role to play, but their most common traits tend to be flexible, easy-going, social, peacemakers, independent, secretive and may have a habit of feeling that life is just not fair. They constantly seem to have to battle for attention from the oldest and the youngest, and this can lead them to some behavior that is labeled as “rebellious.”

The Youngest

The youngest is almost always often referred to as the baby, regardless of how old they actually get. They are known for being risk-taker, outgoing, creative, financially irresponsible, competitive and they like to be pampered. Due to them getting a lot of attention in families, they are also known as being a little self-centered at times.

The Only Child

Only children have a place in this theory as well, and they are known for being close to their parents, having a lot of self-control, being a leader, mature, dependable, unforgiving, and private. Since they are the only child, they are also known for being a bit demanding at times and grow to expect everything they ask for.

The Positives With The Negatives

Everyone’s personality is going to have positives and negatives, and the same is true with birth order. It is important to know what some of the downfalls can be when it comes to birth order. According to Parents, oldest children tend to be very type-A and they don’t seem to cut themselves any slack and can often struggle with their mental health because they often feel like nothing they do is ever good enough.

Children who were born in the middle will often feel like they are not valued in their family. They tend to feel like they don’t always get the same attention as their older and younger siblings, and this can lead them to feel like they get left out often. While it may seem great to be the youngest, they have their downsides too. They can often feel like nothing they do is impressive, and that is because they have older siblings who walked first, talked first, and reached other milestones first. They are often usually coddled and this can make them fail at future responsibilities.

Is It A Myth?

Psychology is sometimes disregarded, and some can be wary of theories that are published on how we are shaped. Some may also believe that birth order is a myth, especially if they feel that they don’t fall into any of the categories. However, parents will always benefit from being aware of what these theories are and how they could shape their children. Since a lot of birth order involves how parents treat their children based on the order they are born in, it is wise to pay attention to how parents are raising their children.

According to Psychology Today, one of the problems with researching birth order and conducting studies is that it is difficult to conduct them well in this century. There are so many more blended families than they are now that it can be hard to determine the “right” birth order of siblings, and that the environment can play a factor in how a child develops. It is also hard to determine a study when siblings may be born years apart. Children born 10 years apart are going to develop differently than children who were born 2 years apart. The general conclusion has been that researchers are in the middle ground when it comes to birth order psychology and it cannot be said with 100% certainty that it exists, but it is helpful information for parents everywhere to be aware of.

Sources: WebMD, Better Help, Parents, Psychology Today