Parenting Around Birth Order

Birth order is fascinating. And while that alone dictates many childrens' traits, parents don't necessarily have to take a backseat and accept the outcome. According to the experts, there are several ways parents can work around birth order to combat some of the more undesirable innate characteristics.

(Photo: Getty)

What Firstborns need most from their parents:

1. To be noticed and appreciated.

Firstborns are typically pleasers and often prefer to hang out with adults over their peers and can put a lot of stress on themselves to be validated by their parents. They absolutely thrive on your approval, so make sure to give them plenty.

2. To get a break.

Because of their dependable nature and reliability, often times parents unknowingly take advantage of their hardworking firstborns, placing too much responsibility on them or too high of expectations. Dr. Kevin Leman, author of "The Birth Order Book," warns against piling on too many jobs for firstborns (expecting them to be the built-in babysitter, etc) because they will inevitably have a hard time telling you no.

3. Help understanding the pros and cons of their unique personalities.

Because they are perfectionists, firstborns will face many personal hurdles (i.e. relationships of all kinds can be challenging, as they expect others to be as "perfect" as they aim to be, or they will try to do it ALL rather than have someone else do it possibly less than perfect). A way to help? Steer them towards seeking excellence instead of perfection to help them gain perspective.

What Middle Children need most from their parents:

1. Unconditional love and attention.

Middles often times feel compared to their over-achieving older sibling, so giving them your time and focused attention is critical. Since they tend to feel overlooked and ignored, make sure to set aside special time just for them.

2. Set Standards and expectations.

When you have a typical firstborn, it's really easy to let the free-spirited middle child ride the benefits of that. Therefore, make sure you teach your middle to do just as much work and contribute just as much as the firstborn.

3. Options.

Whether it's taking them to the mall and letting them pick out their own clothes or letting them choose what movie the family watches that night, middles need to know that they have a voice and that their opinion matters.

What Youngest Children need most from their parents:

1. Fight the urge to baby them.

The obvious stereotype of youngest children is the fact that they are "spoiled" and "babied," which is most of the time worsened by how their parents treat them.

2. Equal responsibility.

If your firstborn is busy tidying up the house (as always), ask your youngest to do something else. He or she needs to know they aren't exempt from the same work the rest of the family participates in.

3. Let go.

It's so imperative to "let go" of this child and resist the desire to overprotect them all the time; they need to learn to make their own mistakes and develop their own problem-solving skills.

What Only Children need most from their parents:

1. Let them have a childhood.

Try not to burden them with adult issues or super high expectations—just know that they are already putting those pressures on themselves and they don't need you to exacerbate them.

2. Involve them in peer group situations.


Encouraging positive peer group interaction by suggesting they give their own toys away after they've outgrown them or by suggesting friend sleepovers so they learn they can't always have their own way all the time.

3. Get a pet.

Something as simple as getting a family pet will help teach only children to nurture.