The Role of Birth Order (Part 2)

In part 2 of this entry on birth order, we’ll take a look at some ideas for parenting with birth order in mind.  

Last time, we took a look at the role of birth order in our parenting journey.  Here are a few ideas for parenting with birth order in mind:

  1. Watch your wording.  When disciplining the firstborn child, be aware of not reinforcing perfectionism.  A life-long objective with firstborns is to help them differentiate between the hopeless pursuit of perfection and the satisfying seeking of excellence. 
  2. Avoid making comparisons. Though research suggests that firstborn’s score higher on IQ tests, generally obtain more education, and out earn their siblings, kids never benefit from being compared to a high achieving sibling or elevating a particular strength or ability.  Personality tests reveal that while firstborns outscore in terms of being conscientious, responsible and having strong follow through, laterborns score higher on what’s identified as agreeableness or the ability to get along in the world.
  3. Set aside time. Create opportunities for one on one time with each child, as well as two on one time opportunities where both parents are together focusing on one child for some identified period of time.   Middle children, in particular, need time where they have full access to the individual attention of their parents.
  4. Assign age-appropriate responsibility.  All children benefit from having responsibilities and contributions to a family. Make sure lastborns have chores and responsibilities.  Avoid deferring responsibilities to older siblings who may accomplish tasks more efficiently or effectively.  Older female siblings tend to be responsible and conscientious, making them easy targets to take on more of the work. 
  5. Don’t stop documenting.  It’s important that all children see and have evidence of life experiences.  Don’t forget to take and record photos and videos of your lastborn.  We’re guilty of having excessive evidence of a firstborns every move and milestone, while forgetting to even bring the camera to a lastborns experiences.  
  6. Check your baggage.  Dr. Kevin Leman, author of The Birth Order Book, cautions, “one force at work is the tendency for a parent to over-identify with the child in the same birth order position.  This can lead to putting too much pressure on the child or spoiling or favoring the child.”(p. 58).