PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
Birth Order: First Born

Anything a first-born child does is a big deal, simply because it's a first for his or her family. Until a second child comes along, family and friends usually shower first-borns with attention. As a result, many first-born kids end up with a lot of natural confidence.

Even if you're not the very first child born in your family, you might have some "first-born" traits if you're the first son or daughter, or if you were born more than five years after your next-oldest sibling. If you're a twin, triplet, etc., the child who comes out first (even if it's just by a few minutes!) will often have first-born characteristics.

Did you know...

  • That almost all of the U.S. Presidents were either the first-born child or the first-born son in their families?
  • All but two of the first astronauts sent into space were first-borns, and the other two were "only children"?

Famous First-Borns

Men Women
George W. Bush Hillary Rodham Clinton
Bill Cosby Oprah Winfrey
Here are some personality traits that are common in first-borns:

Confident: All that attention over everything you do makes you more likely to believe in yourself.

Determined: Because your family might depend on you to get things done, you're probably good about finishing the projects you start.

Born Leader: Whether on the soccer field or in the classroom, you are often in charge. Oldest children are usually given the responsibility of baby-sitting and taking care of the house, so they get early training in being the boss.

Organized: You probably know where to find things, like your books, your Mom's keys, or your homework assignment. Even if your folders are a little messy, it's likely that you have a system.

Eager to Please: It's easy for oldest children to fall into this routine because they started out with a very strong need for Mom and Dad's approval, and eventually this spilled over to other adults such as teachers or coaches. When there's a job to be done, it's usually a first-born who jumps up and says "I'll do it!"

Likes to Avoid Trouble: When people expect a great deal from you, it can be hard to speak up or complain about something. You might not want to be seen as causing problems or less than "perfect."

So, being the oldest has its up and downs. There's definitely some pressure that comes with it! Parents might expect more of you. Plus, they're still trying to set up the rules of the family, so they might be stricter with you.

If you're a first-born, these feelings may be familiar:

  • "Everyone depends on me."
  • "I can't get away with anything."
  • "I don't get to be a kid."
  • "Why do I have to do it? Nobody else does anything around here."
  • "How come I'm responsible for what my little brother or sister did?"

Given the role that a first-born plays in a family, these feelings are understandable...and very common! However, that doesn't mean you can't change things. It's important to talk to a parent about the responsibilities, expectations, and rules that you feel are unfair or are making you feel bad.

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