• The Oldest Child
• The Middle Child
• The Youngest Child
• The Only Child
The Oldest Child
• Feels pressure to fulfill parental expectations
• High Achievers
• Feels overly responsible
• Follows the rules
• Defends the status quo
• Examples: Rush Limbaugh, Hillary Clinton
• Cultural Factors: The oldest male expected to
take over the family business.
The Middle Child
• Confused about their identity since they follow
• Sensitive to being left out or slighted
• Seek other ways to be unique
• Becomes the rebel
• Examples: Howard Stern, Madonna, Malcolm X,
comedians e.g. Jay Leno, David Letterman
• Take up left wing, liberal causes e.g. Martin
Luther King, Yasir Arafat, Oprah Winfrey etc.
The Youngest Child
• Easy going and carefree
• Clown or show-off in the family
• Play the victim role and depend on their charm
and manipulation to get their way
• Girls: spontaneous, cheerful, bratty, trouble
making decisions, wants it all.
• Boys: daring, headstrong, rebellious, compared
unfavorably to older brothers and becomes a
comedian to cope e.g. Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal,
Bob Hope, Ronald Reagan
The Only Child
• They have the parents undivided attention
• Self-assured, secure, self-reliant
• Not confident getting along with peers since they
have no siblings.
• Take on the qualities of the over-achieving oldest
and the pampered youngest.
• Highly developed verbal skills and act like
• Examples: Ted Koppel, Brooke Shields, Frank
Sinatra, Nancy Reagan
Birth Order Considerations
• Five years or more between age of siblings
invalidates the correlations
• If parent believes girls shouldn’t be achieving
than an older girl may not fulfill the achieving
oldest birth order quality.
• Highly successful business women were either
the oldest, only, or had no brothers according
to a study of business women in the U.S.