It’s National Siblings Day! Here’s What Your Birth Order Says About You

National Siblings Day, birth order
“Siblings,” by Gemütlichkeit. Canva, 4/10/24.

Happy National Siblings Day! The annual celebration is held on April 10 as a way to honor the special relationship siblings share. Whether you’re part of a large family or an only child, it’s a fun day to reflect upon family chemistry and your roots.

In the early 1900s, Austrian psychotherapist, Alfred Adler, introduced his Birth Order Theory to the world. Adler found common patterns among first born, second born, middle, youngest, only children, and many more sibling variations. While the findings don’t necessarily ring true for everyone, it’s fascinating to read about! In honor of National Siblings Day, let’s dive into the Adlerian Overview of Birth Order. Who knows? Maybe you’ll resonate (or completely disagree) with the findings.

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Only Child

Adler stated that only children grow up in an extremely unique environment. In a two-parent family, the only child often receives full, unrivaled attention from both parents. Over the course of their life, an only child’s familiarity with adults often leads to a preference for spending time with adults rather than similar-aged peers. Only children may also use more mature vocabulary and phrases as a result of spending more time with older family members.

First Born

The first born has a very transformative role as they evolve from an only child to an older sibling. Once having received attention from both parents, the eldest must now learn to share in many areas of life that were once theirs alone. With this new role of big brother/sister, more expectations are placed upon the child, as they now feel the need to set an example and teach their younger sibling household rules, both explicit and implicit. Due to the expectations of fulfilling the older sibling responsibility, they may take on one of two roles: power or helper. In the power role, a first born may feel that it’s their right to be in charge and ensure the sibling obeys for their own good. Oppositely, a first born who assumes a helper role may feel immense pressure to help ensure a younger sibling’s success, going so far as to blame themselves for another sibling’s mistake/failure.

Second Born

A second born child is considered the second child within a family of four or more children (Adler had his own theory for the infamous middle child). According to Adler, second-borns tend to feel that they are in constant competition. They are situated in a unique spot, in that they are setting the pace and expectations for their younger siblings, while also realizing that the older sibling is ahead of them in many things. Second-borns may have a competitive streak, in that they are working hard to find their role in the family. They may overexert themselves in certain areas in an attempt to outshine the firstborn, or they may feel stressed and rebel more frequently.

Middle Child

Most of us are familiar with the stereotypical middle child temperament — I’m a middle child myself! Adler mostly agrees with this ideology. In a family where a clear middle child is present, he says that middle children can often perceive themselves to be “sandwiched” into the family. They may feel confused or insignificant, in that there’s not a clear delineation of them being in the older or younger “camp.”  Middle siblings can often be quieter in the family, but also more laidback about things that other siblings may be more expressive about. As the middle child grows up, further life circumstances can lead them to have trouble finding a place in areas of life, such as work, school, or interpersonal relationships. However, the opposite can also happen, where the middle child finds their voice and uses it to actively speak out against injustices when they see fit.


Adler states that the youngest of the family can often have many caretakers thus perpetuating the “baby” role. It’s common for one or two older siblings to assume responsibility for some aspects of caring and educating the younger child. While the older siblings may feel that the youngest is spoiled, the youngest can also feel left out of experiences and memories the older siblings share. They may desire to be older in order to feel included in things they are either too small to do or too young to be invited to partake in.

There you have it! What are your thoughts? Do you feel that your family falls into these categories? It’s good to keep in mind that while these theories are fun, they don’t apply to everyone.

Regardless, Happy National Siblings Day!  Wherever you land — first born, second born, middle, youngest, or only child, may you be celebrated and appreciated for the unique role you contribute to your family.


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