Birth order position may contribute significantly to personality development, according to extension agents Sue Flanagan and Patty Morrison with West Virginia University. The youngest child in a family likely has specific characteristics that develop due to having a multitude of older people who influence and care for him.
Because of the number of people often involved with overseeing a youngest child, including parents, older siblings and extended family, it’s common for a youngest child to resist accepting responsibility or stepping into roles of responsibility, states marriage and family expert Dr. Gayle Peterson. The youngest child may grow up experiencing other people routinely becoming involved in situations and often resolving them instead of allowing the youngest child to resolve issues independently.
With continual intervention and even interference from family members, the youngest child may suffer decreased confidence in her abilities and judgment. She may not feel competent to make decisions or navigate situations without guidance from others. She may continually allow others to take over and solve problems for her. The youngest child may experience self-esteem problems if she believes she is incompetent to handle situations without the assistance and guidance of others.
With all those doting elders in a family, it’s common for the last-born to become demanding and spoiled, states Flanagan and Morrison. The youngest child may just expect that he’ll get his way because someone will give in when he demands it. Along with these tendencies, a last-born may learn manipulative tactics designed to get people to give him his way. He can also be very persistent when he wants something.
Center of the Universe
Because her entire family often dotes on her, a youngest child may exhibit signs that she thinks she’s the center of the universe. Parents may not punish her the way they punished older children, according to Kevin Leman, author of the Birth Order Book. This child may be exceedingly charming with everyone, and she may love receiving the undivided attention of other family members as she entertains with her antics.
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images