Is Your Child a Leader or Peacemaker – Parenting According to Birth Order
Did you know the birth order of your children can explain a few things about the dynamics of your family? You may have asked yourself why your children or you and your siblings are such opposites, well here’s one explanation. There’s no hard and fast rule but it may help answer a few of your questions. In addition to the usual DNA, personality and temperament of each individual, birth order can play a significant role in the way your family works. There is no question that children are constantly fighting for their parents’ time, love and affection however it may look more like squabbling, whining or anxiety. Are they just annoying, testing your patience or is it their way of communicating with you?
Historically, birth order has determined the inheritance of power (the first-born) and who would be sent to war (the youngest was considered a ‘spare’). In present-day families, parents may not think about their children like the “Royals” however there’s no argument that most first-borns receive a great deal more individualized attention, where first steps, first words, first everythings are celebrated! As a result, first born children are thought to be conscientious and achievement-oriented but it is also said that they can be more inclined to be anxious, defensive and jealous towards siblings. Because of this, parents may have to hold back and not be overly critical or put extra pressure on them to achieve. First-born children need help balancing this extra responsibility so be sure to give extra privileges, when deserved and at the same time they could do well to learn a little flexibility, humility and empathy.
Consequently, from a young age, to combat the older child’s strengths, the middle child often learns to be more flexible and sociable, to compromise and be a little more relaxed. What’s special about this middle child can sometimes be left out or forgotten so parents should make sure to spend some special time alone with them. Also encourage and help the middle child carve out their own path and avoid comparing them to the first-born.
The temptation for last born is to spoil them or overprotect them. Your last born may be your baby but be sure to treat them equally with responsibility or discipline as much as the others. Older siblings may be more able to tidy up or help with basic chores but find something for the youngest to do too so as not to cause resentment. The youngest may also be looking for their own niche in the family and tends to be a little less conventional and maybe even a little rebellious.
It is important to note that the effects of birth order vary according to different factors, including temperament, gender and age difference. It’s possible to have an easy-going first-born, which reduces the potential competition among siblings or if the children are close in age and the same sex, the competition may be more extreme. When the gap is more than five years, it’s greatly diminished. Birth order is a tool that can help children cope with siblings, and for parents to better understand themselves, their own children and the family situation.
There is no “easy” way to parent. A parent’s responsibility is an ongoing learning experience filled with trial and error, continually fine-tuning and honing our skills and never giving up. However if you run into a difficult situation with your child and need parenting support, ask a healthcare professional, school resource person or a local family services organization such as AMCAL Family Services.
AMCAL Family Services aims to be a leader in strengthening families and the community through innovation and responsiveness. Programs and services offered include Family Counselling and School-based structured and preventative programs. If you have any questions or need help, please call for more information 514.694.3161 or visit us at www.Amcal.ca