The Significance of Birth Order

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					The Significance of Birth
  What is the purpose of learning
about the significance of birth order?
• The purpose of learning about the
  significance birth order according to the
  author is to increase our understanding of
  how children might develop misperceptions
  about themselves based on their position in
  the family.
 When a child compares themselves to a
 sibling that is doing well in certain area,
       what are the child’s options?
a. Develop competence in a completely
   different area.
b. Compete to try to do “better than” the
c. Be rebellious or vengeful.
d. Give up.
   Which tend to be more similar
  children from the same family or
  children of the same birth order?

• Children from the same birth
  order tend to be more similar
  than children from the same
How is being in a family like
     being in a play?
• Each birth order position is like
  a part in a play. Each sibling
  plays a role.
 What is the factor which makes the
biggest contribution to the differences
           within families?

• The biggest contribution to the
  differences within families is
  the interpretation each child
  gives to the environment he or
  she perceives.
What is behavior based on in
     a given situation?
• In any given situation behavior
  is based NOT on the truth of the
  situation but on the person’s
   Why is the truth of a
situation not as important
as the interpretation of a
What does the author give as
   the goal of behavior?
• The goal of behavior is
  finding belonging and
With what birth order position
 are the “most predictable”
     similarities found?
• Oldest children have the most
  “predictable similarities.”
• Why
• That position has the fewest variables.
What has a big impact on how
    “only children” develop?
• The development of “Only
  Children” is impacted by
  whether they are pampered like
  the youngest or given more
  responsibility like the oldest.
What is the “mistaken interpretation”
 that oldest children often adopt?

• That they must be first or best to be
• Why
• They often have to help take care of their
  younger siblings or are forced to take on
  more responsibility.
What is the “mistaken interpretation”
that youngest children often adopt?

• That they must manipulate others into
  their service in order to be important.
• Why
• Because both their parents and their
  older siblings often pampered them.
  How do youngest children
 spend much of their energy
   achieving significance?

•By manipulation.
  What is the “confusing position”
 youngest children are often put in?
• Of being favored by parents and
  resented by siblings.
• When do they often interpret life as
• When they are not taken care of or
  do not get what they want.
  Why do youngest children
 often have the attitude “do it
          for me?”
• Because things have been
  done for them in the past.
 When parents dress children, past
 the age when they are capable of
 dressing themselves, what impact
   are they having on the child?
• They are robbing them of
  responsibility, self-sufficiency,
  and self-confidence.
When parents have the attitude that,
 children will have plenty of time to
adjust to the cruel world later, what
       are they not aware of?

• That it is difficult to change
  habits and characteristics
  once they are established.
 What myth do “Adlerians”
    hope to destroy?
• That super moms are
  good for children.
  What is Dreikurs formula for
developing responsible children?
• Never do anything for a child that the
  child can do for themselves.
• Why
• It is important for the child to develop
  responsibility and self-confidence.
  The longer you wait the more difficult
  it is to change a child’s interpretation
  of how life is.
     What is the “speeder?”
• A youngest child who tries to catch up and
  becomes an overachiever.
• Why do many youngest children become
• Because they have the mistaken
  interpretation that they must catch up and
  “out do” to be important.
What is the “mistaken interpretation”
that “middle children” tend to adopt?
• That they must be different in some
  way to be significant.
• Why?
• They feel squeezed without the
  privileges of the oldest or the benefits
  of the youngest.
 What characteristics tend to be
 manifested by middle children?
• Middle children tend to be easy
  going and to have great empathy
  with the underdog. They tend to
  be good peacemakers and are
  sought out for sympathy.
 If an “only child” is like an “oldest
child” why is their perfectionism less

• Because they haven’t felt the
  pressure of someone coming up
  behind them to threaten their
What tends to be more important
to an only child, than being first?

  •To be unique
 How does birth order help us
   to understand children?
• It will allow us to make some
  intelligent guesses about the
  child’s world and point of view.
• It will help us “get into their
 How does the factor of gender help
 explain some exceptions to general
         rules about birth order?
• If the first and second children are of
  different genders they might both
  develop the characteristics of an oldest
• When is this especially true?
• When there is a definite division of
  gender roles in the family.
When are the differences between
the two oldest children, of three or
more children, going to be the most

• When the children are
  close in age and of the
  same gender.
 What happens when there are
 more than four years between

• They tend to be less
  influenced by each
   What does it mean to be
  “psychologically oldest” or
 “psychologically youngest?”
• When one child has the
  characteristics and environment of
  and “oldest child” or a “youngest
  child” then they are considered to
  be the “psychologically oldest” or
  “psychologically youngest.”
   Why do children become
   “psychologically oldest?”

• If because of the age difference
  between siblings a child is
  treated more like an “oldest
  child” they will tend to become
  a “psychologically oldest
   Why do children become
 “psychologically youngest?”
• If a child is the “youngest
  child” for the first four years
  of their life they will tend to
  become the “psychologically
  youngest child.”
  What is an “Avis Child?”

•One who tries harder
 and overtakes the
 What type of family tends to
   magnify birth order?
• A family atmosphere where
  competition is valued and
  modeled will tend to magnify
  the birth order patterns.
  What is the general rule that
can almost always be counted
• That the two oldest children
  will be very different from each
  other if they are of the same
  gender and close in age.
 What type of family tend to
  decrease the differences
 associated with birth order?
• A family where cooperation
  is valued and modeled the
  differences associated with
  birth order will tend to
 What does birth order information
help you understand about children?

• Why children often have
  mistaken interpretations
  of how to find belonging
  and significance.
What does birth order information
  suggest about achievement in
    school and other learning
• Oldest children will achieve high
  and will compensate for their
  weaknesses in school. Youngest
  children will under achieve and use
  weakness for an excuse.
Why might it be devastating to
tell an oldest child they could
           do better?
• Because they might already
  be trying too hard for
  perfection and they might be
  too tense to perform well.
Why might an oldest child not
  do as well as possible?

• An oldest child might not
  succeed because they are too
  tense striving for perfection.
What point does Adler make about a
  person’s complaint about their

• “tell me your complaint
  about your spouse and I will
  tell you why you married the
  person in the first place.”
    Why might an oldest child be
 attracted to and marry a youngest
child (when they become adults, and
             vice versa?)
• An oldest child might be attracted to
  marry a youngest child because at first
  they might want to take care of them.
  The opposite might also be true of the
  youngest child but often they get tired
  of this relationship.
Why might two oldest children
• Two oldest children might marry because
  they admire the traits in their spouse that
  they respect in themselves.
• What conflicts might result from this type
  of marriage?
• Two oldest children often can’t agree on
  who is in charge.
  What might motivate two
 youngest children to marry?
• They might marry because they
  recognize how much fun they could
  have together.
• What conflicts might result from this
  type of marriage?
• Later they may come to resent each
  other for not taking care of themselves.
 People from which birth order might
 find it easiest to adjust to marriage?
• Middle children might find it the easiest to
  adjust to marriage if they have become
• Which birth orders might find it the most
  difficult to adjust to each other?
• Middle children if they have become
  What type of teaching style would
 you expect an oldest child to have?
• To like to be in charge, to prefer
  structure and order. They would tend
  to have their desks in rows.
• What type of teaching style would you
  expect a youngest child to have?
• To be creative fun loving and to have
  an easy time adjusting to noise and
 What type of teaching style would
 you expect a middle child to have?

• To be interested in the
  psychological well
  being of children.

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