Control freaks and high achievers: What firstborn children have in common.

If you’re a firstborn child, then you’re likely a perfectionist.

You value authority, you’re responsible, and you may be a little more conservative than the rest of your siblings.

While your birth order isn’t the only factor that determines your personality, according to parenting educator Michael Grose, it is an indicator, and accounts for the individual differences between kids in the same family.

Author of ‘Why First Borns Rule the World and Last Borns Want to Change It‘, Grose told Mamamia that firstborns tend to “take on the main traits from the family”. For example, if their parents are working professionals, they will likely go on to be a professional.

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Conversely, youngest children might enter a trade.

Firstborns are more likely to go into professions like medicine or law, and their greatest strengths are their determination, focus and discipline.

“They’re often the good kids in the family, the ones that follow all the rules,” Grose said.

“Everything goes your way when you’re a firstborn,” Grose added, and then when a second child comes along, they ultimately adapt to the firstborn’s routine.

Firstborns want to keep their position of power and influence, meaning they often feel a lot of pressure.

Their early years are defined by a great deal of parental attention, and Grose said that when a sibling arrives, “a firstborn is an only child who’s been dethroned”.


Other traits they have in common include:

  • Reliable
  • Controlling
  • High-achieving
  • Conscientious
  • Rule keepers
  • Goal-setters
  • Detail oriented

There are, however, exceptions.

Firstly, there’s a difference between firstborns and only children.

Only children, according to Grose, exist very much in an adult world.

“They get all of Mum and Dad’s hopes and dreams and all their neuroses as well,” he said. While every parent has hopes for their children, when there’s only one, they all get channelled into that one individual. This isn’t as intense when there are multiple siblings.

The other exception is when there are two children in the family of different sexes.

“They can both end up as ‘firstborns’,” Grose said.

“Sometimes you get a boy who’s been born first and a girl who was born second, and then they’ll do a leap frog… and she’ll become the first born. That occasionally happens… It’s not always the first born who acts like the eldest,” he added.

Interestingly, every man who has ever played James Bond was a firstborn, and almost every astronaut who has been to space was born first. The same applies to Nobel prizewinners.

Famous firstborns include Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Bill Gates, Emma Watson, Elon Musk and Oprah Winfrey.

Famous youngest children include Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lawrence, Johnny Depp, Eddie Murphy and Billy Crystal.

Do you think you can tell the difference yet?

Do you think birth order has any bearing on personality? Tell us in the comments section below.