IN THE MIDDLE.

Knowing the way in which birth positions affects personality can help you find ways to celebrate each child's unique qualities.

Whether you're a proud parent of one or a lively brood of four, you will have noticed clear differences in the way each child relates to you and to one another. Watching their personalities emerge is a joy and no two children are ever the same. Though there are endless potential influences on the way each child grows, their birth order can affect their personalities and abilities.

First place.

Second in line.

Centre stage.

The family baby.

Going solo.

First place.

The first-born tends to be goal-oriented and knows what she wants. She's rational when solving problems and may enjoy teasing, although he usually prefers to please. This child may have difficulty expressing emotions and can be sensitive.

Benefits.

Undivided parental attention for months or years. Often a high achiever academically and usually admired by younger brothers and sisters.

Drawbacks.

With the birth of a sibling, a first-born is ousted from centre stage and has to learn to share parental attention. Parents often expect more of their firstborn that of subsequent children.

Redressing the balance.

Have realistic expectations of your firstborn. Avoid expecting her to take responsibility for the younger children and allow her to have as much freedom and fun as her younger siblings.

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Second in line.

A second born may be interested in unconventional and creative activities. She can be critical of siblings and may have a dry sense of humour. This child sometimes feels neglected and insecure at times, but quickly develops self-discipline.

Benefits.

More experienced and confident parents, as well as an older sibling to play with and watch over her. Parents are often more lenient with the second born.

Drawbacks.

May feel she lives in an older sibling's shadow. Expected to fit in with her older sibling's established routine.

Redressing the balance.

Allow your child to develop her own interests and opportunities to find her strengths.Avoid comparisons with an older sibling's achievements.

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Centre stage.

The middle child is probably even-tempered and may feel protective towards siblings. Middle-born children often make effective diplomats in later life. May feel left out occasionally, but soon cheers up with included in games.

Benefits.

Has a choice of siblings to play with. Can help younger ones and be helped by the older siblings.

Drawbacks.

Middle children can feel left out as parental attention tends to be given to the eldest and the youngest. Never has the authority that's given to an older sibling.

Redressing the balance.

Give your child time on her own with you. Let her stay up late sometimes and allow her to contribute to family discussions. Make alternative social plans so she doesn't have to tag along with siblings.

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The family baby

The last-born is probably the most confident child. Busy family life teaches her to cope comfortably with new situations. The youngest tends to handle her worries on her own, and may be more perceptive than the older children. Last-born girls are often less concerned about their looks than their older sisters.

Benefits.

Older siblings fuss over the Ľbaby', and she quickly learns how to get on with the others. Often allowed more freedom.

Drawbacks.

Always at the back of the queue and rarely gets new clothes. Fewer photographs of her and her opinions may not be given weight.

Redressing the problem.

Ask her to share her feelings and ideas. Keep an eye on her └ she likes to be independent └ and make sure she's not sidelined by siblings.

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Going solo.

An only child is usually self-sufficient. If she has lots of contact with other children, she may have confidence to mix well with her peers, but is often content with her own company and that of adults. He'll make a good leader since she's confident enough to make independent decisions. She doesn't like to upset others and is usually a good listener.

Benefits.

Has your undivided attention and never has to share her toys. Quickly develops social skills for relating to adults.

Drawbacks.

May have difficulty learning to share. Life can be lonely. Your child may feel insecure in peers' company if she hasn't had much contact with children.

Redressing the balance.

Remember she's a child even though he's used to being with adults. Avoid spoiling and encourage her to mix with peers.

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