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How to parent according to birth order

Birth-order parenting expert, Michael Grose, tells us about the preventative measures and pitfalls of parenting according to birth order

by Psychologies

• Only child Let them have a childhood, and don’t burden them with adult issues or parental expectation. Involve them in peer-group situations and encourage sharing by suggesting that they give toys away when they’ve outgrown them. They’ll also benefit from keeping pets so they learn to nurture. Sleepovers are good as they learn they can’t have their own way all the time

• First-borns They are conscientious and they often take life seriously. Help them to lighten up by not searching for mistakes. Don’t be overly critical ­– try not to breathe down their necks and put pressure on them to achieve. Balance extra responsibilities they get with extra privileges, such as a later bedtime.

Middle children They may feel squeezed, so make sure you spend time alone with them. Find out what’s special about them and encourage it, rather than putting him or her through the same paths, same clubs, same everything as the older sibling. Avoid comparing a second-born to an elder sibling, which can act as a discourager.

• Last-borns Make sure they’re not spoiled or babied. Pass responsibility on to this child, and discipline him or her as much as the others. If you’re asking the older children to tidy up, find something for the youngest to do, too. You must let go of this child and resist the temptation to overprotect them.

Photograph: iStock

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