Birth Order and Personality
Not many might know that birth order in psychology has a huge significance. The importance of birth order and how it plays a huge role in the personality shaping of an individual was brought forth by Alfred Adler as part of his own theories termed Individual Psychology. Commonly believed by all psychologists, Alfred too considered childhood as a very important phase since it is the experiences and interactions with significant others which shapes one’s personality in life. How a child is treated in the family is very dependent on the position of the child in Birth Order.
The first born becomes the centre of attention, love and happiness for every set of parents in the world. This child is said to be leading a happy and secure life until the second child arrives. First-born are believed to be always in need of power. As a result, they can be observed as very competitive, mostly in positions of authority, being a symbol of statuesque. The reasons for this hunger for power can be understood by the fact that with the arrival of the second child, first born might experience a sense of dethronement which in turn leads to a pessimistic outlook towards life. In order to regain the lost power, they might always aim for power positions in life.
The second born is believed to be in an unique position in any household. While this child is perceived to be in a position of constant attention and love from the parents by the first born; the truth is that second born never experience a sense of full power in the household. As a result, they may not get affected by the arrival of a younger sibling. Such children are optimistic towards life, competitive but might often set unrealistic goals for themselves. They look up to their elder sibling and want to follow in their footsteps such that the impression might be that of wanting to be a carbon copy of the other. Elder siblings in this sense become the role models for second-born.
The last born is the pampered child of the family as most of the readers might agree!!! They are believed to be fast achievers and catch up quite fast to their elder siblings. Most of you readers might agree that in the position of the last child, there is not too much lenience yet not too much strictness exercised. Adler warns that if the last born has been pampered too much, he/she may grow up to be helpless, overdependent on others etc. He/she may also be unable to cope with life challenges and difficulties later in adulthood
“You don’t have a sibling?…Oh!You are a single child?…Don’t you have a brother?How is it possible? Being a single child is fun no? No tensions, no worries…You must be pampered so much…You must be a spoilt child?!”
These are some of the comments which most commonly can be heard by a single child like myself. Such comments multiply when one realizes that this single child is a girl!!!
Being the only child of the family is often perceived by others in ways which suggest a sense of ultimate freedom, pampering, attention-seeker, possibilities of being spoilt and attitude driven behavior. While I cannot comment on the truth of the general population; personally I can say that such thoughts are hugely motivated by misconceptions and misleading facts.
According to Alfred Adler, those who are the only child of their parents mature very early in life. They are similar to the first born who might never lose the importance and power in the family. The only child in the family find it difficult to share things with people and might not accept a second place as an adult. In personal opinion drawn from personal experiences, the only child is like both the first and last born. There is a certain importance and power handed to the only child but is also more often than treated as a child even in later years. A major misconception regarding single child is that they are pampered a lot because of which they might be suffering from attitude issues. This is absolutely wrong for in my personal experiences I have never been pampered over the limit.
The order in which a child has been born also influences and shapes the personality of that child. In addition to this, the parenting style one is brought up with and the attitude of the significant others apart from the parents are also important in the personality development of a child. The theories developed by Alfred Adler helps us in understanding the significance of birth order in personality shaping although it is just the beginning. Many researches were done thereafter to better understand this theory through valid studies in the field which brought forth satisfactory results.