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First-born Vs Second-born

What do the scientist Albert Einstein and the anthropologist Margaret Mead have in common? They were both typical first-born children - intelligent, successful and high achievers. And what about the revolutionary scientist Tycho Brahe and radical political thinker Benjamin Franklin?

They were both typical second-born children challenging, unconventional and ready to reject existing standards. Birth order can effect your child's personality for a number of reasons. First, there is the division of family resources. Your first-born child has you all to himself, at least until the next one comes along - and this might not be for at least another two or three years.

Psychologists claim that this undiluted parental attention and stimulation during the early years is one reason why the typical first-born child is smarter than her later-born brother or sister. Second, there is the family hierarchy. Traditionally, the younger child carries less authority compared to the older brothers or sisters.

For instance, it's often your first-born child who receives the new clothes while his younger sibling get his hand-me-downs. And it's often your first-born child who is allowed to choose the family activity during the weekend. And third, many second-born children complain that they live in the shadow of their older sibling's achievements.

This could explain why later-born children prefer creative activities to academic activities - perhaps, they simply don't want to compete against higher-achieving older siblings, and therefore turn their energy into new, creative fields that have been untouched by an older brother or sister. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the way birth order affects personality, but research suggests the following trends:

If your child is a first-born, then he is probably clear-thinking and rational when it comes to solving problems he encounters. He enjoys teasing other children occasionally, but usually prefers to please; he is also very goal-oriented, knowing what he wants. Your first-born isn't so good at expressing his feelings and may be easily upset - he never really gets over the fact that his younger sibling arrived uninvited and stole the limelight from him.

If your child is a second-born (or later-born), then he is probably interested in the unconventional and creative. He can be very critical of his siblings, often with a very dry sense of humor. This child at times feels sorry for himself, as though others neglect him; yet he is prepared to stand up for himself when he needs to. Your second-born child may feel inadequate and insecure at times. He quickly develops self-discipline.

Breaking The Mould

Bear in mind that these research findings do not mean that each child will inevitably develop these typical characteristics of his particular birth order. Rather, he will have a tendency to develop them - whether he does or doesn't depends on the way you raise him. Here are some suggestions for parental strategies that avoid birth-order stereotypes:

Avoid Comparisons

You may be tempted to compare your youngest child with his older brother or sister in order, for instance, to encourage her to try harder. Yet, most children dislike  having their individual talents and skills compared to those of a sibling.

Let Each Of Your Children Develop His Individual Personality Much depends on the way others behave towards your child and on the way you manage him. Encourage your children to be individuals, allowing their particular characteristics to develop.

Make Each Child Feel Important

Spend time with each of your children, whether first-born or second-born. Every child needs your love and attention to make him feel special and important - this always has a positive effect.


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