A Guide to Birth Order and How It May Help You Understand Yourself Better

Does birth order shape your personality within the family system? 

According to Alfred Adler, psychiatrist and philosopher, there are “five psychological positions that children tend to view life: oldest, second of only two, middle, youngest, and only.”

Emphasis on the relationships within the family is one of the most influential social systems to date. 

In Dr. Gerald Corey’s book, Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, Adler differentiates why siblings can have similarities within each family constellation but differences in individual personalities depending on his or her birth order. 

Do the following characteristics of birth order align within your own family? 

  1. Oldest Child: leader, spoiled, hard working
  2. Second Child of Only Two: competitive, obstinate, people-pleasing 
  3. Middle Child: social, peacemaker, independent 
  4. Youngest Child: dreamer, pampered, motivated
  5. Only Child: mature, perfectionist, center of attention

Implementing family therapy in order to identify and understand the dynamics of birth order can help mitigate sibling rivalry and streamline communication within the family system. 

I encourage your family to create intentional time to discuss birth order and personalities around the dinner table.

Click here to learn more details about Adler’s characteristics of birth order by Henry T. Stein, Ph.D.

Written by: Lisa Miller