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How Birth Order May Affect You

Does birth order have an effect on what kind of person you are? According to Dr. Kevin Leman, author of The New Birth Order Book, where a person is in relation to his or her siblings makes all the difference in the world.

"I think it makes all kinds of sense," Leman told CBS This Morning Co-Anchor Mark McEwen. "Getting behind the eyes of people helps you negotiate business and relationships in a great, fun way."

Leman, himself a youngest child, wears many hats. He is a psychologist, a radio and TV personality, and the best-selling author of The Birth Order Book. His current publication is an updated version of the 1986 book, which offers insight into how birth order impacts personality, job, and relationships.

In his book, Leman outlines the basic characteristics of children depending on their birth order, as follows:

First Born or Only Child:

Because they are the guinea pig project of their parents, a great deal is expected of the first born. In response, these children tend to be conscientious, well-organized, critical, serious, goal-oriented, self-reliant achievers. They like to please others and follow authority.

Leman says that firstborns break down in two separate groups: the compliant firs born and the aggressive firstborn.

Compliant firstborns tend to be good students and good workers because they needed their parents' approval. They are conscientious caregivers who do not like to cause trouble. Their desire to please often makes them vulnerable to others' manipulations. Rather than push back when pushed, they hold in their frustrations until they finally explode.

Middle Child:

Middle children are smarter than anyone gives them credit for, says Leman. The middle child is often a free spirit, a great team player, diplomatic, and a good mediator. These children are the most secretive of all the birth orders, independent and mentally tough. They are faithful in relationships and don't have as many hang-ups as firstborns or only children do.

However, the middle child usually feels left out and ignored. They tend to be so mysterious that, in order to understand them, they have to be observed in relation to the rest of their siblings. When trying to view the middle child, Leman says there is a "branching-off effect," meaning, the eldest child influences how the middle child behaves.

Leman explains that many middle children make many friends because it is only with these friends that they feel special. They also tend to leave home first because of their frustrations at being overlooked by their family.

Last Born:

Parents are often worn out by the time the youngest child comes around. As a result, (as their siblings might say) they get away with murder.

The baby of the family tends to be an outgoing charmer, manipulative, affectonate, uncomplicated, absent-minded and carefree. The child can also be rebellious, temperamental, spoiled, impatient, and a persistent person who seeks out attention.

To help understand and encourage the personalities of all the children in a family, Dr. Leman advises parents to:

  • Be less critical with the eldest child.
  • Allow the middle child to come into contact with more people, so that the child doesn't feel ignored.
  • Hold the youngest child accountable for his or her actions, and not let them evade responsibility.
  • Overall, Leman says that parents should treat their children as different individuals.
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