The Power of Birth Order

The Youngest

The Youngest

Famous Youngest Kids
Cameron Diaz, Prince Harry, Blake Lively

Innate Strengths
Lastborns generally aren't the strongest or the smartest in the room, so they develop their own ways of winning attention. They're natural charmers with an outgoing, social personality; no surprise then that many famous actors and comedians are the baby of the family (Stephen Colbert is the youngest of 11!), or that they score higher in "agreeableness" on personality tests than firstborns, according to Dr. Sulloway's research.

Youngests also make a play for the spotlight with their adventurousness. Free-spirited lastborns are more open to unconventional experiences and taking physical risks than their siblings (research has shown that they're more likely to play sports like football and soccer than their older siblings, who preferred activities like track and tennis).

Common Challenges
Youngests are known for feeling that "nothing I do is important," Dr. Leman notes. "None of their accomplishments seem original. Their siblings have already learned to talk, read, and ride a bike. So parents react with less spontaneous joy at their accomplishments and may even wonder, 'Why can't he catch on faster?'"

Lastborns also learn to use their role as the baby to manipulate others in order to get their way. "They're the least likely to be disciplined," Dr. Leman notes. Parents often coddle the littlest when it comes to chores and rules, failing to hold them to the same standards as their sibs. "My youngest is carefree and doesn't worry about details," says Freedom, Pennsylvania, mom of five, Christine Kiefer. "I expected more from my oldest when he was his age."

Necessary Nurturing
The long-term result of too much babying could be an adult who is dependent on others and unprepared for the world. So don't underestimate your child. Youngests are masters at getting out of chores and are often seen as "too little" to participate. But even a 2-year-old can manage tasks like putting away toys, so be sure she has responsibilities. "Keep a consistent set of rules that all of the kids must follow," says Dr. Maidenberg. "If you don't make them follow the rules, you really can't be angry when they get into trouble."

What You Need to Know About Your Youngest Child
What You Need to Know About Your Youngest Child

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