Royal baby: why youngest children are the rule-breakers
The arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's third child is delightful news – and three children means a much richer and more complex set of interactions in a family.
Many factors work to create a unique individual, but birth order is still one of the most powerful factors that shapes character – and could be the most powerful influence of all in determining social behaviour throughout a lifetime.
Prince William arrives with Prince George and Princess Charlotte to meet their new baby brother.
In 2013, Daniel Eckstein and his colleagues at Sam Houston State University looked at more than 200 studies into birth order characteristics and created a list of the most frequently cited qualities for each birth order position.
The eldest is the only child in a family who starts life enjoying the exclusive attention of their parents. As a result, they often develop good linguistic and social skills and we see these in Prince George already.
The downside is that firstborns can pick up on any anxiety new parents may feel and, when the next sibling comes along, they feel the loss more keenly. This leaves them with a strong thirst for approval from authority, and with that comes a powerful drive to succeed.
One study found that firstborns were 30 per cent more likely to be in positions of leadership than any other birth order position. As the baby is a boy, Prince George is firstborn in ordinal position and as the elder son, so first born qualities are likely to be strong in him.
Contrary to popular belief, middle children are not troubled outsiders, but often the least anxious child in the family.
They grow up learning to avoid conflict and get on with a wide variety of individuals. A word of warning: because middle-borns value getting along with others, they can be easily led. They're also the ones most likely to go through a phase of appearing outlandish in dress or make-up – possibly as a reaction to feeling "invisible".
To an outsider, the youngest of three looks like the most privileged birth order position – the new royal baby is a lucky child. Parents of three have less time and inclination to enforce the rules, which allows the youngest child more freedom to take greater risks.
Older members of the family are also often on hand to help, but this can mean the youngest grows up impatient and frustrated as they are surrounded by others more competent than they are. In all this, it's important to remember there are nuancing factors that can subtly change a child's profile and these will be beautifully illustrated in William and Kate's family.
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