The Kid in the Middle

This is my grandson Peter. He is generally easygoing, flexible and able to entertain himself without much input from adults. Peter made a comment to me the Sunday that got me to thinking about birth order again. His older sister and her friend Erica had recently spent the weekend with me, and I suggested to Peter that it should be his turn next. He told me that his younger sister, Izabelle, had already informed the family that she would be next in line to spend a weekend with us, and he added that we might as well just let her do it, or she’s probably throws a fit. At first, his defeatist attitude kind of broke my heart, but then it hit me that Peter was expressing classic middle-child behavior. Peter was born with his own personality and temperament, but I know that his placement in the family dynamic has had a strong influence on him. His older sister was the recipient of all the parental resources and attention for two-and-a-half years. She is mature, responsible, a bit domineering and very demanding of herself. His younger sister is cute and funny and constantly demanding of attention. These are ALL birth order traits.

Besides personality and temperament, there are many other environmental aspects that influence us. For example, a child’s birthdate is a factor in the developmental process. Children whose birthdates fall shortly after the cutoff date for school entry become the older children in the class and therefore often become leaders—–simply because they are older and wiser. The way that a parent and a child’s personality interface with each other can also have an impact on the way personalities develop.

It’s a lot to think about, I know.

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