Happy National Sibling Day

Apr 10 2018

As the youngest of four I was always getting teased, taunted and told what to do. Somehow as they years went by the roles shifted. Although the personality traits noted by the birth order theorist Alfred Adler don’t mirror my siblings there are some similarities.

The birth order theory began in the late 1920s with Alfred Adler, Sigmund Freud’s friend and colleague. Adler believed that the order in which you are born into a family inherently affects your personality.

The first-born (oldest) child. According to Adler, the oldest child tends to be conservative, power-oriented, and predisposed toward leadership. Because they often take responsibility for their younger siblings, firstborns grow up to be caring, more willing to become parents, and more likely to take initiative.




General traits of the oldest include;

  • Reliable
  • Conscientious
  • Structured
  • Cautious
  • Controlling
  • Over Achievers

The second (middle) child. Since the older brother or sister is a “pace-setter” for the second child, they often struggle to surpass their older sibling. The pace of development is higher. The middle kids in a family often tend to be ambitious, but they are rarely selfish. They are also more likely to set unreasonably high goals for themselves. This increases the number of failures, however knowing how to cope with difficulties in life is what makes them stronger.

Middle children tend to possess the following characteristics;

  • People-pleasers
  • Somewhat Rebellious
  • Peacemakers
  • Wider Social Circle
  • Thrives on friendships

The last-born (youngest) child. As a rule, the youngest child gets a lot of care and attention from parents and even older siblings. That is why they may feel less experienced and independent. However, last-borns are usually highly motivated to surpass their older sisters and brothers. Very often they achieve a big success and earn recognition in their chosen field. They become the fastest athletes, the best musicians, or the most talented artists. The youngest children in a family tend to be very sociable, though they are likely to be more irresponsible and frivolous than older children. Youngest children tend to be the most free-spirited due to their parents’ increasingly laissez-faire attitude towards parenting the second (or third, or fourth, or fifth…) time around.

The baby of the family tends to be;

  • Fun-loving
  • Manipulative
  • Outgoing
  • Attention Seeking
  • Uncomplicated

I would say most of the above does fit my personality. There is another category worth noting for exceptions when age gaps within families exist. In our case, 10-12 years between my older sibling and I, they call these Gap Children.

Gap Children: They consider at least five years in between births a substantial gap in the birth order structure. A 2-year-old boy with an 8-year-old older sister isn’t going adopt middle-child traits, but rather those of a firstborn. This gap can lead to perfectionist traits more like an only child.

The adjectives don’t always fit the personality but it is fun to take a look at what it means to be one of many in a birth order on this April 10th, Sibling Day. As the quote says, we all know blood is thicker than water. We readily pick on each other but heaven help the outsider who comes between you and your sibling.