How Birth Order Shapes Personality

Youngest Children

Cassandra Reigel Whetstone, of Folsom, California, admits she was more conscientious when her daughter Clara, now 7, was in preschool. "Everyday I'd ask: 'What did your teacher read to you today?' But I slacked off when Owen (now 4), came along. I can't tell you one book he's read in class this month." Parents tend to let things slide once the last child comes along -- they aren't nervous, first-time parents anymore. As a result, lastborns usually do get away with more than their siblings do, says Leman. They shoulder less responsibility, so they tend to be more carefree, easygoing, fun-loving, affectionate, and sociable, and they like to make people laugh." Just see if your youngest assumes the role of class clown someday.

But being the youngest isn't all roses. Because lastborns view their older siblings as bigger, faster, and smarter, they may attempt to differentiate themselves by being more rebellious, says Sulloway. Leman, himself the family baby, agrees with this statement: "Lastborns have an 'I'll show them' attitude." And if older siblings baby the baby, lastborns might be spoiled and manipulative.

Famous last-borns: Rosie O'Donnell, Eddie Murphy, Halle Berry, Cameron Diaz, Paula Abdul, and Lucy Liu.

Out of the mouths of lastborns: "Where are my baby pictures?" "I'm never big enough or smart enough.? "Nothing I do is important." "Another hand-me-down -- can't I have something new?"

Parenting your Last-Born Child

  • Lastborns often feel they aren't taken seriously. Let her make some family decisions -- like where to go out for dinner or which video to watch together.
  • Acknowledge his "firsts." When he learns to tie his shoes or pees in the potty, call the relatives like you did with the firstborn. And be sure to make a big deal of his artistic accomplishments, displaying his drawings on the fridge, as you did for his older siblings.
  • Give the youngest child some responsibilities, even something simple like putting napkins on the table. Lastborns can end up with few family duties because they?ve learned to duck out of work or other family members have dubbed them too "little" to be able to handle things, says Leman.

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