The Youngest Child: Birth Order Characteristics

In a previous West Coast Wellness Group post, I wrote on the “Eldest Child”.  This time ’round we’ll be looking at some of the features of the last born child.  As in all theory, these descriptions are based on “normal” human development.  When individuals have very different characteristics for their birth order position it generally means that there has been something at work to alter what is deemed to be the natural order of development.  This can include significant loss, financial hardship, drug/alcohol use in the family, death of a family member, political upheaval or anything that would create disruption.

Having said that, here goes!  As a youngest myself, I can certainly attest to many of the descriptors for this position.

Youngest children are unique in that they are never displaced by a newborn.  They are the babies of the family, and in that way, they continue to be babied long into adulthood.  Youngest tend to appear youthful throughout their lives.  (Ronald Regan was a youngest, a rarity for a US President.) Youngest children often receive a lot of attention from family because many feel responsible for taking care of them.  Thus, youngest may be indulged, pampered and spoiled in ways that other children are not.  Having experienced good things from others, youngest children may grow up expecting good things from life and therefore tend to be optimists rather than negative-thinking people.

Parents tend to be rather blase about the youngest after they come along.  After all, they have already done some child-rearing tasks, and may not be as enthusiastic about this child’s accomplishments.  Thus, the youngest has less expectations placed upon them and they tend to achieve less.  Youngest children grow up having others make decisions for them and thus, as adults, have far less confidence about decision-making in early and mid-adult life.  If teased – and youngest tend to be teased a great deal – they may become interested in working for people for whom they perceive as “powerless” in society.  Occupations such as clergy, nurse, social worker, actor, singer and therapist are common professions for youngest children.  The may be less ambitious than other sibling or birth order positions and are less likely to follow family traditions; creative or artistic pursuits can be a large draw for them.

Being the smallest in the family, youngest children quickly learned that being aggressive was ineffective; to get what they wanted youngests found that  employing charm was much more useful.  Another less desirable  but perhaps arguably effective way of obtaining one’s wonts was  pouting to get one’s way.  Either way, it is some manner or   form of manipulation that attemps to get what the person wants.  Later in life the youngest may not need to use manipulative strategies,  but nevertheless youngests tend to continue to be charming in nature.

Because their older sibling seemed to have the hold on the intelligence in areas such as scholarly academics, youngest children try to move in different directions in order to be content on their own terms.  If an eldest child was the honor roll, the youngest may be in the school play or music room or creative writing class.

Youngest children are followers much more than leaders, and will happily follow a leader they respect.  If a youngest finds themself in a leadership role, they are often well-liked, but their authority may not be taken seriously.  In relationships, youngest children may be dependant on their older spouses and then rebel against them or their control.

Youngest children who have been treated well as children tend to be sociable, easy-going and friendly.  If treated poorly as a child, they may be shy and irritable with others.

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