Mother-of-four Heidi Klum has her hands full keeping up with all those kids and their unique quirks. Now research reveals that birth order does indeed play a role in determining a child’s personality.
Do you have one kid who’s an overachieving class president and another who’d rather spend the day solo playing Wii or reading a book? Rest assured that the hospital didn’t switch your babies at birth. Many experts agree that a child’s place in the family directly affects his or her personality and even future success, according to Today Moms (click here to see the video). “For siblings, the differences in many aspects of personality are about as great as they would be between a bother and a sister,” says Frank Sulloway, Ph.D., author of Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and Creative Lives.
According to the research, the first-born child in the family tends to be an overachiever. A study conducted by Brigham Young University in Provo, UT, revealed that the oldest children get about 3,000 more hours of bonding time with parents than their younger siblings. Lucky for 37-year-old Heidi Klum’s daughter Leni, 6, the oldest child also usually grows up to earn a yearly salary of $100,000 or more. The downside is that they tend to be bossy. “They’re typically inflexible — they don’t like change and are hesitant to step out of their comfort zone,” says child and family therapist Dr. Michelle P. Maidenberg.
Middle kids — like Heidi and Seal’s sons Henry, 5, and Johan 3 — tend to naturally go with the flow in order to find their place in the family. They were once the baby but had to adapt to their new role as big brother or sister once the newest bundle of joy arrived. They’re also more likely to make strong bonds with friends outside of the family, since they receive less attention at home. “Middle kids are in a difficult position in a family because they think they’re not valued,” says Dr. Maidenberg. “It’s easy for them to be left out and get lost in the shuffle.” In order to make sure that your middle kids aren’t feeling forgotten, HollyMoms, you need to make them your focus every so often so that they feel empowered. Letting them choose the board game or movie on family fun night is a great way to keep them involved and remind them that they’re just as important as their siblings.
Heidi and Seal, 47, better keep a close eye on their littlest one, Lou, 11 months. According to the research, the last-born are charming and extremely social. They’re also prone to taking more risks than their older siblings, in order to impress their parents. “None of their accomplishments seem original,” says psychologist Dr. Kevin Lenman, author of The Birth Order Book. “Their siblings have already learned to talk, read and ride a bike. So parents react with less spontaneous joy at their accomplishments.”
But what if you only have one kid? Research suggests that an only child has a lot of the same personality traits as the first-born. They’re equally ambitious and articulate but they have an even better ability to communicate with adults. The only problem may arise if your only child doesn’t have any kids his or her own age to play with. “Make sure your child spends time with his peers from an early age,” says Dr. Maidenberg, who feels that playgroups and sports teams are a great way to socialize young children.
Hey HollyMoms, does this sound familiar? Do your kids fit the mold of these personality traits?