Creative Child

Why Firstborns and Only Children are Perfectionists

by Deborah Song on Apr 18th, 2016

Firstborns and only children tend to carry a burdensome trait: perfectionism. Even seemingly lazy and unmotivated firstborns and poor students are usually discouraged perfectionists who have given up trying because it hurts too much to fail, according to Dr. Kevin Leman, author of The Birth Order Book.

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There are always exceptions, of course. But the perfectionist instinct in firstborns and only children are strong for two reasons: mom and dad.

When you’re the first born, your closest role model is not an older sibling, but your parents.

It’s hard to measure up to an adult when you’re very little. Add to that the zeitgeist of critical parenting and a natural tendency for parents to have higher standards of firstborns, and what you have is fertile breeding grounds for a perfectionist in the making.

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Many firstborns are high achievers.

Half of all Nobel Prize winners and American presidents have been first born. Having high expectations of your firstborn isn’t a bad thing. But there is a difference between striving for excellence versus perfection. The latter is an impossible goal that sets you up for disappointment. And if unchecked, perfectionism can prove debilitating.

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