Each time Elizabeth Moore returns from the supermarket, she expects her sons to help her unload groceries from the car. Her oldest, 13-year-old Jake, is always the first to help, while her youngest, 8-year-old Sam, complains the whole time. Meanwhile, her middle son, 10-year-old Ben, rarely makes it out of the house. "He gets held up looking for his shoes. By the time they've turned up, we're done," says the West Caldwell, New Jersey, mom. "It amazes me how different my children are from one another."
How do three kids with the same parents, living in the same house, develop such distinct personalities? A key reason seems to be birth order. Many experts believe that a child's place in the family is intertwined with the hobbies he chooses, the grades he'll earn in school, and how much money he?ll make as an adult. "For siblings, the differences in many aspects of personality are about as great as they would be between a brother and a sister," says Frank Sulloway, Ph.D., author of Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and Creative Lives. Birth order isn't the only factor that contributes to how a kid turns out, but giving it consideration can help you understand your kids' personalities -- so you can help them succeed in their own unique ways.