Why do children raised in the same household often turn out so dramatically different? A child's birth order may have something to do with it, says author and therapist Meri Wallace. "Birth order really shapes your personality development because you have a very unique experience in each of the [birth order] spots," she says.
Meri talks with Holly and Rodney about her book Birth Order Blues: How Parents Can Help Their Children Meet the Challenges of Their Birth Order
. She also outlines the positive and negative roles birth order can play in the lives of children:
- Oldest Child: The firstborn child may get a lot of love and attention and grow up to feel self-confident, Meri says. "But, they may also be very pressured to succeed because their parents want them to turn out so well," she says.
- Middle Child: The middle child is often an attention seeker because he sometimes doesn't get as much attention from his parents as the firstborn or the baby does, Meri says. "A lot of middle children become entertainers. They sing, they dance—anything that will bring attention to them," she says.
- Youngest Child: The youngest child is often charming and social, Meri says. "They know how to deal with other children because they have already been born into a group of kids, and they use their cuteness to get attention, and they know how to manipulate everybody," she says.
- Twins: Even though they are wonderful playmates, twins are often very competitive with one another, Meri says. Also, she says the twin born first, even if by just a few minutes, often takes on the role of the oldest child.
- Only Child: Like a firstborn child, an only child gets a lot of love and attention and may grow up to be very self-confident, Meri says. At the same time, she says the only child is the baby of the family and may be coddled by her parents longer and take on some traits of a youngest child.