Birth Order Theory: My Kids Fit the Mold

birth order

“My kid is so Type A. Total firstborn.”

“He’s so sensitive. Such a middle child.”

“She’s the baby of the family, so that explains it.”

If you’re a parent or a sibling, you’ve probably heard or said a few of these phrases referring to birth order.

First presented by psychiatrist Alfred Adler (1870-1937), the Birth Order theory examines the relationship between birth order and personality.

My Three

I’ve often felt that birth order plays a significant role in my kids’ personalities. And how could it not?

With my firstborn, I was a stressed-out new mama and had no clue what I was doing.

I worried about every little thing. My son wouldn’t sleep and we’d hold him for hours. At one point, we hummed in his ear for an hour straight to get him to close his eyes.

With my second, I was a pro, and had less time to worry about little things. Oh, the baby is crying? She’ll be fine. Eventually, she’ll nod off. And she did. With a smile.

With my third, well let’s just say, she got very good at keeping herself entertained—or being entertained by 1 and 2. She crawled later and talked later than the first two. There really was no need as her older siblings were doing all of the moving and shaking and it was fun just to watch.

And she could fall asleep anywhere. (And she still can as long as she has a glittery sleeping mask on.)

Birth Order Traits

So I was curious which traits apply to each birth position?

According to one of the more popular contemporary books on the subject–the The Birth Order Book by psychologist Kevin Leman—here are a few of the outstanding traits.

Firstborns and Only Children

birth order

-Reliable and conscientious


-Black-and-white thinkers

-Keen sense of right and wrong

-Natural leaders


Famous first-borns include: a high percentage of U.S. presidents; all seven astronauts in the original Mercury program; Oprah Winfrey; Taylor Swift


birth order

-Opposite of the first-born

-Walk to the beat of a different drummer



-Can get away with occasional laziness (not pushed as hard as the first-born)

-Big on friendships


Famous middleborns: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., John Legend, Bill Gates, Madonna


birth order

-Social, outgoing




-High on people skills

-Life is a party

-Least likely to be punished

Famous babies of the family: Ellen DeGeneres, Jay Leno, Steve Carrell, Billy Crystal, Chevy Chase, Tina Fey, Cameron Diaz


Of course, there are variables that can affect birth-order traits.

According to Leman, some of these variables include:

-Spacing (number of years between children). My husband is 12 years younger than his closest sibling. He has traits of both a lastborn and an only child.

-Sex of the child (sequence of males and females)


-Birth order position of each parent

-Relationship between parents

The Right Mix

I do find it fascinating when I look at my kids’ friend groups.

From toddlerhood, the dynamics always seemed to work best when there was a mix of kids who fell at different places in the birth order.

I remember mommy-and-me groups, when it was all new moms (and all firstborns), there was a lot of fighting over toys and a lot of “Mine, Mine.”

I remember how much lighter I felt when I would take my middleborn or lastborn to a playgroup. They would observe the other kids and share. (Or, maybe I just didn’t notice as much if they weren’t sharing.)

I still see the dynamics in my kids’ friend groups as they get older. When all the firstborns are together, the dynamic is generally more intense and serious. But throw in that child who is a middleborn or lastborn, and the mood shifts.

Suddenly, the topic of conversation is not who got the better grade, or who got the fastest time in the mile, but rather “dude, watch me spray the milk out of my nose.”

Or as my lastborn likes to say, “Guys, want to see me do the splits?”

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