Forget what you have learned about birth order. The old birth order does not explain the effects of sibling order. Be prepared to learn a new way of looking at birth order.

By comparing birth order positions with life scripts as taught through Transactional Analysis, I discovered that there are five birth order personalities. I also discovered that there are many exceptions to the numbers, which is why studying birth order according to the numbers has never revealed true birth order.

Birth order personalities are formed early in life. Each child has to solve particular problems by using a set of coping skills which become birth order characteristics.

The only child has to solve the problems of how to play alone without feeling lonely and how to deal with intrusion. The child develops imaginary playmates to overcome loneliness, and two speeds for dealing with intrusion. Of the two speeds, fast is for avoiding intrusion and slow is for inviting it for the help it gives.

The first born comes to feel unloved through the perceived loss of mother's love to the new baby. This child mentally trades love for attention in the forms of respect, admiration and approval, seeking these in the place of unconditional love.

The second child must cope with the oldest child taking away attention by outperforming him or her. The child feels inadequate, tries to overcome the feeling by choosing perfectionism in some area of life. Also, the second born feels that no one cares about how he or she feels because the oldest child clearly does not. Consequently, to avoid pain the second born tries to suppress his or her own feelings.

The third child must cope with the second born picking on him or her to pass on the feelings of inadequacy. The persecution by the second born makes the third born feel vulnerable, as if anyone can get to him or her any time they want. The third born decides to cope by being strong. The third born who succeeds at being strong becomes fearless, and the third born who fails becomes fearful.

The fourth born endures the third born saying "you're not big enough, strong enough, fast enough, old enough or smart enough to play with us." The fourth born feels rejected, naturally, and immature, feelings which continue for a lifetime. To conquer these feelings the fourth born attempts to achieve okayness by trying hard.

When the fifth child comes along, the fourth born ignores him or her trying to pass on the feelings of being unwanted. Consequently, the lack of interaction causes the birth order to start over with the fifth child as an only until there is a sixth child to cause him or her to become a first born.

There are many exceptions to birth order, so the numerical place in the family may not correspond to the psychological birth order. When there is a discrepancy, we must use the psychological rather than chronological birth order.

Things to know about Birth Order:

  • Each birth order personality is distinct, not a blend.
  • In large families, birth order repeats first through fourth born
  • Exceptions occur so that personality may not match birth order position in the family
  • Birth order personality is established by age two for most children.
  • Birth order does not change once it is established.
  • Birth order results from coping with a life situation, not from programming by parents.
  • Birth order personality affects every area of life.
  • Birth order personality includes strengths and weaknesses.
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