Have you ever noticed a pattern of children’s behaviors and roles within families? The responsible first born? The carefree and spoiled youngest child? What about the sullen and rebellious “sandwich” child?
There are of course many exception to these stereotypes, but I love patterns and was delighted to learn that there is a formal classification with the field of psychology for the different types of children in a family. Anyway, who doesn’t love a good stereotype? It makes life so much simpler.
This exploration is part of a field called systems theory, that tries to look at the family as a group as opposed to a collection of individuals, and to analyze how the behavior of one person might affect the rest of the people in the family around them.
The original exploration of these different roles was done with families in which a parent was alcoholic or abusive. In these cases, the roles manifest in more of an extreme way. Yet to some degree, you can find these roles within every family- after all, no parent is perfect, and we all find different ways to distinguish ourselves within the system.
So without further ado, here are four different types of children. Feel free to engage in the delightful pastime of diagnosing yourself and everyone around you, and when you are done, why not apply to your favorite TV show?
1. The Hero - Usually the firstborn, the Hero is the model child. He is responsible and obedient, and often seems like a third parent.
2. The Scapegoat – you know the kid who’s always acting up? This child seems to get into a disproportionate amount of trouble. This is his or her own way of getting attention, and helps everyone else feel better about themselves: at least we didn’t set the teacher’s desk on fire.
3. The Lost Child- often a middle child, the lost child is quiet and introverted. They seem emotionally distant, neither particularly excited nor particularly bothered by anything going on around them. But don’t let that placid exterior fool you, they may have problems that they just aren’t showing.
4. The Mascot- usually the youngest, this is the happy go lucky life of the party. They may be mischievous, but ultimately their charm and likeability often helps them get away with anything short of murder.
So there you have it. What are your thoughts? Did you see yourself fitting into one of these roles? Do you think there is another role that wasn’t mentioned? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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