A Fascination with Facts and Features of Birth Order

One of the things that has always interested me in the psychological world is the debate between the concepts of “nature” verses “nurture.”  I think the ongoing debate between these two competing ideas is best represented in the theories surrounding birth order! I say this because birth order is essentially a concept that involves how the order you were born in (“nature”) and the environment in which you are raised (“nurture”) interact with each other.  Those who people in genetics and personality traits being determined primarily by our DNA should very much believe in everything birth order related.  Those of us who feel how and where we are raised determines our personality among others things would very much deny birth order having any sort of real impact on our development.


Like most things, I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  I believe it is true that birth order DOES play a role in our development.  But I also believe that that impact is either enhanced and mitigated by the surroundings and interactions that make up our development.


In order to better understand what birth order really means, let’s take a deeper dive and explore the various stages of the birth order theory!


According to most birth order experts, there are four different categories in the birth order world.  They are: first born, second born, last born and only child.  Below the characteristics of each stage are broken down for you more in depth.




Being the first born usually leads to taking on a leadership role in whatever the first born is involved in.  Common characteristics for a first born are being cautious, enjoying structure, needing control, overachieving, and reliability.   First borns are known to act like mini versions of their parental counterparts.

As children, first borns can often turned into the most extreme version of an introvert possible, no matter how familiar the situation is.   The cautiousness can be overcome, though and when that happens, that where the magic happens.

Due to their need to be in control and show who’s boss, first borns can often take on the title of “bossy sibling”, as they will literally want to parent their siblings without any input from the adults around them.  But don’t forget, they have their mischievous side, as they are just as likely to fetch their younger counterpart a drink as they are likely to gulp said drink right down in front of them.

As adults, it is the need to the best that seems to come out the most.  Most adults that are first born would self identify as an overachiever or perhaps even as far as a perfectionist.  Adult first borns really want to the be the most dazzling centerpiece in every room, every function, every project.





Ah, the Middle Child.  The child who from Day One is stuck in this sort of LaLa Land wondering where exactly they fit.  They are not the oldest, they are not the youngest, so what exactly ARE they?  In part due to this internal conflict, second borns are often what you would call people pleasers and they can be rebellious.  Second borns have a large social circle — think complete and total extrovert to the seventh degree.

In childhood, second borns can  be quite the attention seeker while maintaining a definite streak of independence.  But they also can be a lot of other things, as their personality quarks n at are determined often times by their older siblings.  If the oldest sibling is a boy and the second born is a girl, a second born can take on a lot of first born characteristics, because they are the first born female.



As life would have it, the last born children are usually the most free spirited of the bunch because by the time the last born comes around, parents are done with parenting, allowing for a lax in attention to detail.  Because of this last born are usually manipulative, outgoing, fun loving creates who are often self centered attention seekers.

Depending on how the relationships are developed, last borns can be extremely jealous of anyone else’s attention or superiority.  They will often declare things are their’s when young.  They can literally and figuratively push their way into the spotlight, especially when dealing with their siblings.

As adults,  last borns can be the most simplistic, uncomplicated, low key sibling of the group.



It would not be a birth order discussion unless we talked about how being the only child creates a very unique set of characteristics.  Lacking anyone else in the house to directly compete with, a only child monopolizes a parent’s time, energy and resources like a first born but without an end date.  This creates what experts consider a “super first born”, where an only child carries with them all of their parents support, admiration and expectations, for better or worse.

Only children can be mature for their age, diligent, conscientious and perfectionist.  To being unused to competing with others, only child make natural leaders, as leaders often avoid much of the competing and, well, lead.

When young, only children can come across as mini versions of their parental counter parts.   This means often times they exhibit traits of their parents interests, sense of humor and communication style.  It would not be unusual to observe an only child using a level of sarcasm that goes right over their peers heads.

Once the only child enters adulthood, their desire to be perfect real life models for the rest of us to observe and admire can evolve from being a positive characteristic to something unholy and hellish.   An only child turned only adulthood might host a dinner party and spend the entire dinner party (from prep stage through clean up stage) micromanaging every detail.


So now after dissecting birth order, what do you think? Are you convinced one way or other? How has birth order played an impact in your life?

For me personally, I think it will be interesting to see how the ideas behind birth order come out in the children.  I say this because the distance between the ages of my children put them in various categories.  Obviously, because I have three kids (ages 14, 8 and 3), I have a first born child (my teenager), a second born child (my Space Kase) and my last born (my Lizard).

However, due to how their ages are spread out, according to birth order experts, my teenager is really an only child.  My middle child is not really the middle, but according to some birth order experts would be either technically a “first born” or “only child” as well.  This means my Lizard is not really the baby of the family, but depending on how you look at it, she technically could be a first born, second born, last born OR only child!

This is why I do not look at birth order a “fixed science” and one that determines everything about who we are and what we become.  I do think in times of strife and conflict is it extremely important to examine a child’s birth order to see if that explains some of the extenuating circumstances.


If you haven’t had your fill of birth order yet, check out these cool videos below!

And as always, please reach out to AugustWest@AugustWestWellness.com with any questions or concerns!





Categories Mental Health

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