Birth Order Personality

Alfred Adler (1870-1937) was the first psychologist to devote considerable attention to the effect of birth order on individual personality traits. According to the birth order theory, first born children have different personality traits than middle or youngest children.

For example, firstborn may be smarter, more educated and earn more money, while middle children will tend to be less decisive, less connected and function as  mediators in their family.

These traits may be identified through analysis of individual drawings, but a more comprehensive diagnosis is achieved by comparing the drawings by all siblings.

Case study

The first drawing presented in this case is by a firstborn. It illustrates some of the main characteristics of firstborns in general, as well as some specific traits.

Seven year-old Sam draws in a precise and conformist way (drawing on the left) – all the elements are drawn meticulously and the drawing maintains accuracy down to the smallest details. In addition, it shows us how ambitious and dedicated Sam is –  characteristics common to many firstborns.

Birth Order1       Birth Order2

Birth Order3

Robin, Sam’s 5 year-old sister, draws in a style typical of middle children. Robin draws in flow, the lines in her drawing lashing out in all directions as she generally ignores page limits (drawing on the right). Her stormy temperament is expressed, among other things, in the rapid tempo of her drawing, identifying her as an ambitious and competitive girl who struggles for her status in the family with both her older and younger siblings.

The drawing of Joe, Sam and Robin’s 3 year-old brother, (third drawing) shows on one hand how he feels he can afford to take his time and grow up slowly, and on the other hand how he is influenced by the developmental achievements of his older siblings, as reflected in his effort to imitate details of their styles.

Birth order personality

You may have noticed that birth order influences the personality of your child. Middle children have typical behaviors and similar personality traits. Even so, you should not rely on such generalizations. It is important to assess every child individually while taking birth order into account. Only after professional analysis of the child’s personality, character and environment will you be able to understand his behavioral difficulties or other issues.

Our recommendations

  • Let each of your children play a unique role in your family. Every birth order position has its positive aspects.
  • Pay attention – are you particularly empathetic towards one of your children just because his birth order position is similar to yours? Help your child occupying the position you are familiar with to better cope with the implications of that position.
  • Let your children play around with the idea of switching birth order positions: “Let’s pretend that you are the oldest child…”. Such make-believe games can help your child to get into his siblings’ shoes. In most cases, your child will conclude that it’s best for him to remain in his current position.

To conclude, personality and personal character are affected by many factors, one of which is birth order position. It is critical to include this factor when analyzing children’s drawings and providing their parents with comprehensive professional consultation. It is important to know whether the child in question is the oldest or youngest in the family, and compare his drawings with his siblings’.

Want to know more?

Our learning center will familiarize you with important tools and topics for understanding children’s drawings.


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