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.

25 thoughts on “The Youngest Child: Birth Order Characteristics

  1. I’m the youngest girl of four children, and I’m 51 years old. The oldest is a brother, 9 years older than me, then a sister, 8 years older, then another sister who is 5 years older.

    My question is not about me, but my sister that’s 5 years older than me. Recent events have uncovered that she has held deep seated resentment for me for our whole lives. I’ve discovered that almost everything that’s been said to me has been a lie, meant to manipulate me, and that she has alienated me from my son, other family members and my friends. How common is it for a middle child to have a personality disorder?

  2. I am the youngest I agree with some of the stuff and some this I disagree. And I’m talking about it as it relates to me… 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.
    As for me being a follower not true at all… I have always been a rebel and I march to my own beat.
    I totally agree with the following

    • I will never be follower and I don’t believe that if u grow up in a bad home does not mean u won’t make something of yourself

  3. This does not describe me at all. I am not happpy to follow at all; I usually take charge and I am high achiever. I have the most academic achievements in my family and I became independent the earliest but my childhood stage was prolonged then suddenly I became very independent through my own making and with lots of struggle. Furthermore I do not follow familt tradition at all. My choices were completely different than my siblings or parents.
    My childhood wasn’t the most emotionally stable which could be an explanation

    • I agree, I do not follow family traditions at all. And I as well have the most academic achievements in my family. The only college graduate. I am friendly and outgoing but at times not taken as seriously as would like to be.

  4. As the youngest I agree. I was told “you don ‘t have to do anything” Did not chores sister says I was “spoiled”. We did not much money so spoiling was spending time with parents-Sunday afternoon walks with dad were great!I don’t think bro and sis did that,but they were close in age and had each otherI read a LOT. Don’t have memories of living with bro and sis.I remember me and mom and dad.I got to have a cat in house.Thats not good for a child. Children need guidance and responsibility and love. My son is only child and I raised him as I was. Gave him everything[ including love]. Today he is too shy,no friends no job no motivation but very nice and caring.To bad you can’t go back!

  5. I am a youngest and I am fascinated with the bit on not being taken seriously. I am 30 years old and I am still dealing with this aspect from time to time. Although, now it is not as profound as it was before, I am highly sensitive and frustrated in times when I feel I am not being taken seriously — particularly when I express strong emotions.

    What else can you say about this? I have been looking online as to the ins and outs of this aspect of youngest born children and I want to know more about why and how this happens and how it typically changes (or does it?) with adulthood.

  6. Well, not sure where to begin. I have observed more than a few youngest of the family where i work and also my youngest brother. Not saying anything about the contents of your clothing…But. My 1st observation is that they love lime light, controlling the conversation, what conversation? It’s one sided, in their favor. Trampling all over what you are saying, with the volume greater than anyone else. Always try proving to you that they are right when that’s not always the case. They have tunnel vision and if they do not know it, it may not be worth knowing. Opinionated and sarcastic, no matter what the topic, they are the victim. Would you like a stick of gum, ” why do i have bad breath?”. That chilli was good, and spicey, ” You can do the cooking next time!” Would you like a little help with that, ”Why, been doing it all along by my self with out help!” Another thing they want control of the teasing, because they can not take any! One co-worker stopped talking to me for two days, my brother i do not tease. Doing things, no one works as hard and as long as they do. Anything you can do, i can do better. Sound familiar ???? It might be 180 degrees, but i have seen it!

    • I am a youngest child, and I agree with all the personality traits that you listed down. My personality is the complete 180 of what’s described in this article.

  7. I agree and disagree i am the youngest and most often the forgotten one and the most accomplished one I am in the helping field but one thing is i was the first to graduate from University out of my whole family of Seven and they all followed i was called the piller by my therapist

  8. Being the youngest of 10, having a “normal” childhood (but, what is “normal”, nowadays?), I do not relate to the description above.

  9. I am a youngest child of three. I can say I am not babied. On the contrary of people doing things for me, I have to do things for them. Growing up I did the dishes, cooked (my older siblings still don’t know how), and found myself home alone during the day with out a clue my family had left. Agreeing with the article I had the worst grades of all my family and failed more than my share of classes, for not applying myself or not studying with people in my family (even though no one wanted to study with me). The article also said that the youngest aren’t aggressive, however I am the most aggressive, competitive, and have the worst anger of all of my family. Finally everyone is different. There situations are different, homes, siblings, and who they choose to be.

  10. I’m the youngest of 11 children. My family is Native Canadian (Ojibwe). I agree with the above description. My older siblings have always taken care of me; even after I moved thousands of miles away. The impacts on my life have been: I’m a late bloomer (I became a lawyer at 43); I’m irresponsible at times (forgetting to pay bills on time); I’m dislike house work (I pay someone to do it); I’m youthful in appearance; my voice sounds like a younger person’s; my nieces and nephews are same age as me and they are resentful that their parents spoil me. I can disarm people easily with my sense of humour. I feel lucky in my life, but I have to be vigilant about my laziness and procrastination. I really have to push myself to accomplish things.

  11. As the youngest, I was a premie baby too, but I was not spoiled as most of the eiblings thought, did not like being completely alone, but kept to myself, quiet, reserved. Was teased alot and shy, extremely shy. My brother and I were shy of our parents because they were strict, well at least my mother was. Father got mad at times but didn’t want the responsibility of raising us, so it fell on mom. The older siblings (sisters), first born (oldest sibling) was a kinda rebel, independent free-spirited and bossy. Second oldest was shy, a perfectionist, straight A student, intelligent, independent, wants to fix, control everything. Middle child (brother) shy, intelligent, liked to read, tinker with things, a thinker, independent. We were sensitive children, needy somewhat, but responsible, honest, trust-worthy.

  12. I almost didn’t comment because the article appeared quite awhile ago, but then I noted that “last children” were still commenting in 2014. This is the first of the many articles shown online in response to my google search. I don’t think I need to read the rest as I received the information I wanted. Yes, not much was demanded of me as a baby/child, but I was treated as a baby even when I went to school and my mother would walk through snow to c come to my first grade classroom to make sure I ate my lunch, even going so far as to spoon feed me. Her idea of being a mother was to control every part of my life. Having lost a child in infancy three years before I was born made her more committed to making me live healthily. I was shy and did learn but never got terrific grades. No praise from her or my father or the nuns who taught me. Because I am creatively gifted, I blossomed in high school, but not in grades except English. It was after I married and had a passel of kids did I come to the realization that I could do more than was expected of me, and I did emphatically and excellently. And then I went to college at 40 and graduated with honors and enjoyed a 20 year career writing and communicating for large firms. Now I see my youngest, the baby in a family of seven children becoming much more stressed than her siblings. She can do a lot but is overwhelmed much quicker than them. I felt overwhelmed in my many pursuits, but I forged away anyway, while stressing and getting upset emotionally. Your article explained much about me and my youngest child who doesn’t have time for me because there are too many things on her plate. But she helps me financially in my senior years and I guess that eliminates guilt for not giving me any time now but she certainly has in the past. Thank you for clarifying issues for me.

  13. A lot of what you said about the youngest is true about me. I am the youngest of 8. I was babied a lot, very spoiled and am very sensitive, but I also have a mental illness that attributes to that. My Mom died when I was 22, which was an extremely hard loss and impacted the family tremendously. I am not the social charming one in the family and I lack a lot of confidence. I don’t feel comfortable in leadership roles. No one takes me seriously. I am overly kind like my Mom was and I’m told I’m most like her. I have been the peacemaker in the family, which I find is weird for the youngest role, but yet of course no one wants to listen to me so I’m not sure why I try, but I do nonetheless think I have some impact on them. There is alcohol abuse from some of my siblings and for the last few years I have become the scapegoat who gets others problems taken out on me. I have had to limit the time I spend with them because it hurts so much, being sensitive of course. I thought the scapegoat role was usually for the middle children. They know I’m the weakest and they can say whatever they want and I won’t fight back most of the time. I also get controlled a lot by siblings, and coworkers. I resent that people won’t let me be in control of myself. I always choose friends who are older than me, because my peers seem to be immature and selfish and lack caring for others. I have my immaturity as well, but I also care a lot about others. I’m wondering if the scapegoat role is common for the youngest. I’m trying to be assertive and stand up for myself, but I’m not taken seriously. If anyone has suggestions, I’d appreciate it.

  14. I’m the youngest in a family of four boys. I definitely agree with the article. I was teased and bullied a lot in middle school and high school and, this may or may not have any correlation, I’m passionate about social issues. My parents were laid-back in raising me and I wasn’t pushed as hard as my older siblings were, they (my mother especially) treated me like a baby for most of my life. I had to prove my adulthood, whereas my brothers didn’t. I’m not necessarily a follower, but I’m not as good at influencing people as others.

    Decisions were made for me as a child and, as a result, I have trouble trusting my own judgment at times.

    Whereas my older brothers excelled in school and sports, I was a C student and I sucked at sports. I’ve always hated school and I never really cared for sports like that. I’m more of a creative person; I write fiction.

    Though I’m not a very optimistic person. I’m very cynical. I tend to expect the worst in situations, that’s the only thing that didn’t apply to me.

  15. Hey! i agree with some of the above descriptions but hey Mr. gill, am also the last of 11 and i share most of what u’ve said.

  16. I’m the youngest in the family. I agree on some of the parts but also disagree in some. I’m not always an optimistic kind of person, i am also a pessimist. I agree that younger siblings are kind of a manipulative kind of person. But i was always a leader in class when it comes to groups (for example making a video and etc.) or reporting and i’m proud to say that were sometimes the highest!

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