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How Do Siblings & Parents Shape a Child's Personality?

by Jenny White, studioD

Your parenting style, discipline strategies and the quality of relationships your child has with her siblings can contribute to her personality development. Your kid's ability to make wise decisions and build positive social relations depends on her childhood experiences, values, beliefs and expectations. Your duty is to model quality traits for your kids and provide them with an environment that is conducive for their cognitive, social, moral and psychological development.

The Birth Order Effect-- Firstborn

Your kid's birth position influences his personality. Firstborns take the lead from their parents. According to a 2012 article on Hellomagazine.com, firstborns are determined to achieve because new parents are keen on their development. During childhood, they have no siblings making fun of them as they work with their toys, for instance. According to Kevin Leman, PhD., author and motivational speaker, firstborns can easily become perfectionists. They have the desire to be like their parents and want to do everything correctly. Strive to nurture leadership skills in your firstborn.

Middle Kids

Middle children often feel left out. They think the oldest and youngest siblings receive more parental attention than they do, according to Meri Wallace, a family therapist, in a 2013 article in "Parents" magazine. They tend to create good friendships with their peers, are rebellious and act as peacemakers when their siblings disagree. These traits shape their personality.


Staff at “Psychologies” magazine suggest the youngest children are likely to question the order of things and adopt a completely different personality. They grow up expecting their older siblings to take responsibility because of their "baby of the family" status. They are outgoing, fun-loving, manipulative and self-centered. The magazine, however, quotes Michael Grose, a parenting expert who admits the effects of birth order can vary according depending to your children's age gap, temperament and gender.

Discipline Strategies

You have the power to shape your kid's personality through your discipline techniques. Researchers at Boise State University have established that parenting styles and conflicts within the family have negative effects on the development of an individual’s self-esteem as they grow up. Children of authoritarian parents are often unhappy, unfriendly, have low self-confidence and get low grades in school. As you discipline your children, remember they learn a lot from you. Involve them in making decisions and maintain a close relationship. If you can model your firstborn into a responsible child with a desirable personality, he can be a role model to his siblings.

Marital Status

The family environment influences the personality of a child, according to a 1991 report published in the journal "Psychological Bulletin." Children raised by parents in a stable marriage are happier, confident and feel more secure than their peers whose parents are divorced. Separated parents can face challenges raising their children together, making it difficult to support and discipline them. When you and your partner have consistent parenting styles and share the same values, your kids can become what you want. However, courageous and committed single or divorce parents can still positively influence their kids’ personality development.

About the Author

Based in Orlando City, Jennifer White has been writing professionally on parenting topics for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in “Diverse” magazine, “Tampa Pay Parenting” magazine and “Colorado Parent” magazine. White holds a Masters in educational psychology from Florida State University.

Photo Credits

  • Kraig Scarbinsky/Photodisc/Getty Images