Learn all about the youngest child. Learn some of the strengths of being the youngest as well as some of the struggles of being the youngest child.
Youngest child stereotypes vary. Some people consider the baby of the family to be super spoiled and can get away with anything. Others look at the youngest as one who always gets “hand-me-downs” and therefore is a little picked on.
They are often thought of as charming and free spirited.
When we talk about Birth Order, we are referring to how your spot in the family will impact you as a person.
My very favorite book on birth order is The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are by Kevin Leman. Leman really discusses all of the different facets of birth order well, including factors that can and will change what is “typical” within a birth order.
Youngest Child Personality Traits
The youngest child is a place in the family that holds a special place in my heart. As an oldest child, I have this sense of responsibility over the youngest.
My father is the youngest of seven, and I recognize so many of the qualities he has that I know saved my sanity as I was raised.
One of the traits Kevin Leman discusses for youngest children is that they are often in the limelight.
This is so true at our house with our youngest, Brinley. She loves nothing more than to have all eyes on her to sing or dance. She also loves to make people laugh–anything to get attention. She wants all of the family members to pay attention to her.
Leman (who, by the way, is a last born himself) points out that this love of limelight can have a “dark side.”
He points out they might ruin a family picture to get a laugh–even as a “responsible” adult! Okay, that is 100% my Dad . I could probably count on one hand the number of family pictures with him in it without the bunny ears happening over someone’s head.
Outgoing and Charming
Youngest born are outgoing charmers and personable manipulators. They are affectionate and uncomplicated. They do not worry. They are often the family clown and love to entertain. They love making people laugh, point, or comment. They are comedians.
These qualities, other than the manipulator part, all describe my Dad.
He loves to make people laugh and was always playing jokes on his older siblings–especially his poor sisters and his nieces and nephews. He has no worries–ever.
This is a trait that I happily picked up. Chill and ready to take whatever comes in life. As a perfectionist oldest child, let me just say having a father who was so relaxed about life did wonders for my psyche.
He never drove me to do anything. He was supportive and applied no pressure in life. I did enough of that on my own, and had I had a father adding to it, I may have ended up with some problems.
Youngest Children Have to Work Harder
Last borns have the disadvantage of following other siblings. Siblings who are taller, more coordinated, smarter, etc.
The older children were all amazing geniuses when they said their first word. By the time your youngest says her first word, you have realized as a parent that it is normal for babies to learn to talk.
Youngest children have to work harder to impress their parents.
They can at times really impress their siblings, though.
Leman says parents get “taught out” by the time the last borns arrive and are less impressed with last-born accomplishments.
Parents often let younger children get away with things they never would have let older children get away with, for better or worse. Parental expectations go down.
They also often do not have as high of expectations for younger children. Your oldest at age 8 seems so old, while your youngest at age 8 seems like she just barely left toddlerhood.
It is easier to just have the oldest child continue to do a certain chore than to teach it to another child all over again, who won’t do as good of a job as the current child is doing. At least not initially.
So parents can often get a little lazy when it comes to parenting the youngest child.
Leman quotes from a book called First Child, Second Child where the authors say some last borns become adept at charming the world while others realize the only way to gain attention is to make a mess.
Youngest Children are Persistent
Leman states “…one of our major traits is persistence” (page 185). They will keep pushing until they get what they want.
Sometimes that “push” can be through tears or tantrums if they have found that will work for them, but if not, they will find other ways.
Youngest Child Strengths
Every birth order spot has strengths and weaknesses.
Leman’s strengths list includes:
- fun to be around
- easy to talk to
- read others well
- do well in social settings
- want to help
- like praise
Youngest children are often the type of people that everyone just likes. They have a way about them to get everyone to like them.
Youngest Child Weaknesses
Just as every birth order has strengths, every birth order has weaknesses.
- can push too hard
- easy to take advantage of
- make decisions with too much feeling and too little thought
Youngest children often lack of responsibilities that your older children had at the same ages. This can make it so they have lower expectations put on them. This can lead to the weaknesses listed above.
What This Means to You as a Parent
As you look as these strengths and weaknesses, think about how you can help magnify the strengths and help turn the weaknesses into strengths.
It is good to be aware of the traits so you know to look for them. You can help teach your youngest to not be flaky. You can help your youngest not be so temperamental or impatient.
Birth order differences are real. It is important to recognize what makes your kids tick. You need to know what you are doing to contribute to that and what you can do to help your kiddo grow up to be as functional and balanced as possible.
Embrace the uniqueness that is your youngest child. Enjoy the entertainment. Help her learn to be responsible. You can help her build up her traits to all be strengths to her in her life.
- Understanding the Middle Child–Why They are Balanced
- How To Help a Perfectionist Child Who Won’t Try
- Birth Order: Characteristics of an Only Child
This post originally appeared on this blog in September 2010