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What birth order says about you (and your siblings)

If your older brother is a perfectionist, or little sis is a jokester, it's likely those traits are a result of where they fall in the sibling lineup. Psychiatrist and TODAY contributor Dr. Gail Saltz shares five facts that help explain why we are the way we are.

You know the stereotypes: Only children are selfish, youngest children are spoiled, oldest children are driven and middle kids have a Jan Brady complex. You can argue with your siblings about how true those statements are -- but experts say there are some personality traits that seem to stem from your place in line among your brothers and sisters. 

1. More than half of U.S. presidents have been firstborns. Oldest children tend to be natural leaders, likely as a result of helping their parents care for their younger siblings. Interestingly, many prominent newscasters and TV talk show hosts are firstborns: Oprah, Peter Jennings, Walter Cronkite, Rush Limbaugh -- and our very own Al Roker.

2. Middle children tend to be secretive, experts in birth order say. Middle kids feel, rightfully so or not, as if they don't get as much attention as their older and younger siblings -- and because of that, they might end up keeping more things to themselves. 

3. Babies of the family are more likely to be irresponsible with their finances. They're also more likely to seek the limelight, experts say. In fact, several well-known funnymen and women are youngest children: Billy Crystal, Goldie Hawn, Drew Carey, Jim Carrey, Steve Martin -- and Steven Colbert, who is the youngest of 11 kids!

4. Only children get along better with their elders. Since they grew up without any peers in the house, only kids tend to be mature beyond their age -- they are likely to be both socially and verbally precocious. Only children often have many of the attributes we associate with oldest children -- perfectionism, ambition, higher self-esteem -- but they'll often exhibit these traits to a higher degree than oldest kids. 

5. Parenting style is influenced by the parent's own birth order. Whether they mean to or not, parents tend to identify with the kid whose place in the family's birth order is the same as their own. Also, parents who were firstborns may find take their tendencies toward perfectionism out on their kids, holding them to hard-to-reach standards. 


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