According to Dr. Adler’s theory on Human Social Development, the order our children are born in is one of the factors that affects our children’s growth and development. Dr. Adler attributes personality and development to five roots that impact us in our growing years. These roots are: health and appearance; socioeconomic position of the family; parental attitudes; gender role; and of course the family constellation (his term referring to birth order).

The oldest child tends to be the most responsible, because they are usually involved in helping take care of their younger siblings. Middle children receive the least attention, making them tend to have a “whatever” attitude towards many things in life. The smallest child in the family is always and forever the baby and tends to be spoiled.

We need to take these “norms” into account when we are raising our children, and especially in our expectations of our children. It isn’t realistic to expect the family’s baby, who has always had others to do things for her, to be as responsible as her oldest sister, who has taken care of her. Nor is it realistic to expect the middle child to take the same interest in family activities as the baby will.

All the same, by being aware of these tendencies we can both work to control them and utilize them to benefit our families. The utilizing these tendencies is the easy part and in fact will pretty much happen all by itself. On the other hand, trying to bring balance into our children’s lives and not allow these tendencies to get out of hand can be extremely challenging, requiring contestant diligence on our parts.

Don’t get me wrong, we shouldn’t try to eliminate these natural tendencies, they are part of our children’s lives, whether we want them to be or not. At the same time, we don’t want to mistreat a child, be it only verbally, by not appreciating them for who they are.

 

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