Birth order is defined as a person’s or child rank/position by age among his/her sibling. Everybody has a birth order including ones family members, teachers, co workers and friends in school. Birth order is a unique phenomenon that is said to shape the personality of an individual. While there are factors like race, age, gender and age help shape the personality of an individual, birth order is considered one of the determinants of an individual character. Empathy refers to the ability of an individual to understand another person’s feelings and emotions and to be in a position to share the feelings with other people.
It’s the ability of considering another person’s feelings and considering them as important as one’s own feelings also. Empathy is often associated with birth order because every child born often enters into a different environment different form the previous child. Because empathy involves understanding the feelings of others, it can also mean recognizing the emotions of another person and the way they are characterized (Zajonc and Gregory 79). This is because since emotions are normally the combination of beliefs and ideas, then getting this concept is more essential to empathy.
The human capacity to identify the body feelings of the other are related to the birth order in several ways. People believe that emphatic personality traits that children possess depend on the birth rank of the child. First borns are considered the most intelligent, responsible, obedient, the least emotional and least creative. Middle children are considered envious. Last borns are seen as creative, emotional, disobedient, irresponsible and talkative. This can make some children to feel not loved.
First borns are exposed to only adult language while later borns are exposed to adult language but also to the less mature vocalizations of their older siblings. This affects the verbal environment of the later born. This dilution becomes more pronounced for each additional child born. This differential exposure to mature language may be the reason for later borns reduced performance on verbal, vocabulary and reading comprehension tests as compared to first borns. Birth order explains the different personalities that siblings often have.
When a child first becomes aware of the environment, he first identifies his niche. This issue brings competitions that exist in the siblings for the parental resources and as this competition sprouts up, the last borns develop counter strategies and the whole thing looks like a race for the best in the family. It’s this competition that causes the different personalities in an individual (Sulloway, Frank J. 38). Since the later borns often learn from the first borns, the later borns are often are more empathic than the first borns.
This is because the later borns expand their language development by learning from the older siblings. They can be in a position to understand the behaviours and emotions and their causes. Later borns are therefore said to use a positive social behaviour. Development of empathy has over the years been seen as a cognitive issue while others refer to it as a primary effective process. The cognitive development of a child is different in different children in the birth order. Firstborns are considered assertive and very anxious because they develop their cognitive processes by observing this development in their parents.
The later born on the other hand often learn from their older siblings and therefore their character is often less assertive. Since the older borns are wiser, older and more powerful, the later borns often are diverse in their interest and they therefore are open in most of their relationship. Good examples that explain the nature of first borns being assertive are scientist’s nature like Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and Sigmund Freud. Latter borns are said to only follow the first borns decision as is evident in the supporters of these scientists (Hoff-Ginsberg 625).
The effect of birth order on a child’s behaviour is normally considered overrated. There are other variables in the family that are said to also affect the personality in a child and they include the spacing between the siblings, the age of the first borns and the size of the family. Certain characteristics of the child therefore are associated with the family size. If an individual did not develop in his younger years in the emotion of empathy there is likelihood that at the older years, the child will have diverse effects.
The behaviours at old age often show differences between the siblings who are the first borns and those who are the last borns. Often those who are first borns will develop a less emphatic behaviour because they did not get a closer relationship from their parents, the later borns on the other hand will love challenging the status quo and getting attention and also creative in their work. This explains the importance of birth order in getting along with friends, family and fellow workers at job, and often feeling for them.
Research has also shown that birth order affects romantic relationships and personality, the first borns said to be lees emphatic on their spouses and therefore are so hard to maintain peaceful relationships while the later borns are more emphatic and therefore form good relationships. In conclusion, birth order is considered an important aspect in the development of empathy in a child. Often the child will develop different characteristics depending on the position of his birth.
It’s important for parents to learn the characteristics of a child by considering the birth order so that it will help predict the behaviour and personality of the next child. Work cited: Hoff-Ginsberg, E. The Relation of Birth Order and Socioeconomic Status to Children’s Language Experience and Language Development: Applied Psycholinguistics 19 1998:603-629. Sulloway, Frank J. Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and Creative Lives, New York: Pantheon, 1996: 28-42 Zajonc, R and Gregory B. Birth Order and Intellectual Development, Psychological Review 82, No. 1, 1975:74-88.