Following up on our series on “How to Care for Your Eldest Child“, “How to Care for an Only Child“, “How to care for a Middle Child” and Rules for caring for Extrovert and Introvert Child, it is fitting we finally explore How to Care for your last born or the Youngest Child, using excerpted tips from The West Coast Wellness Group. Here are things to consider about the youngest child in the family that should help you in managing and rearing them.
1. Youngest children are unique in that they are never displaced by a newborn. They are the babies of the family, and in that way, they continue to be babied long into adulthood. Youngest tend to appear youthful throughout their lives. (Ronald Reagan was a youngest, a rarity for a US President.) Youngest children often receive a lot of attention from family because many feel responsible for taking care of them. Thus, youngest may be indulged, pampered and spoiled in ways that other children are not. Having experienced good things from others, youngest children may grow up expecting good things from life and therefore tend to be optimists rather than negative-thinking people.
2. Parents tend to be rather blase about the youngest after they come along. After all, they have already done some child-rearing tasks, and may not be as enthusiastic about this child’s accomplishments. Thus, the youngest has less expectations placed upon them and they tend to achieve less. Youngest children grow up having others make decisions for them and thus, as adults, have far less confidence about decision-making in early and mid-adult life. If teased – and youngest tend to be teased a great deal – they may become interested in working for people for whom they perceive as “powerless” in society. Occupations such as clergy, nurse, social worker, actor, singer and therapist are common professions for youngest children. The may be less ambitious than other sibling or birth order positions and are less likely to follow family traditions; creative or artistic pursuits can be a large draw for them.
3. Being the smallest in the family, youngest children quickly learned that being aggressive was ineffective; to get what they wanted youngests found that employing charm was much more useful. Another less desirable but perhaps arguably effective way of obtaining one’s wonts was pouting to get one’s way. Either way, it is some manner or form of manipulation that attempts to get what the person wants. Later in life the youngest may not need to use manipulative strategies, but nevertheless youngest tend to continue to be charming in nature.
4. Because their older sibling seemed to have the hold on the intelligence in areas such as scholarly academics, youngest children try to move in different directions in order to be content on their own terms. If an eldest child was the honor roll, the youngest may be in the school play or music room or creative writing class.
5. Youngest children are followers much more than leaders, and will happily follow a leader they respect. If a youngest finds themself in a leadership role, they are often well-liked, but their authority may not be taken seriously. In relationships, youngest children may be dependent on their older spouses and then rebel against them or their control.
6. Youngest children who have been treated well as children tend to be sociable, easy-going and friendly. If treated poorly as a child, they may be shy and irritable with others
7. Since they are used to being around lots of people, and have done so since birth, many youngest children are very social and enjoy being around people as much as possible. This can be trying at times for parents as youngest children may be very demanding of your time if there is not other child around to play with, or keep them occupied. However, it’s hard to argue with having a child who is outgoing, friendly and chatty, even if it is exhausting some of the time
8. In order to gain attention, and firmly establish their place in the family, youngest children need to be able to find unique ways to identify themselves. For this reason, they are frequently risk-takers and rebels. You may experience your youngest child as feisty and a bit of a smart aleck. This is his or her way of reminding you that being the youngest doesn’t mean being the most invisible. Fortunately, for many youngest children, the “cuteness” factor outweighs the potential for being annoying.
9. For many parents, by the time they get to the youngest (even of two) they feel they have “mastered” being a parent. They are therefore more relaxed and less anxious. Needless to say, this affects the way they parent the youngest child in comparison to older children. Youngest children typically experience a greater sense of independence and freedom.
10. Although, since they have one or more “mothers” and “fathers” disguised as older siblings, this doesn’t necessarily mean they behave more independently. In fact, some youngest children don’t want to be too independent because it will mean giving up that special place as the baby, which they so enjoy. They therefore allow their parents and older siblings to take care of and do things for them that they are actually capable of doing for themselves. This may or may not be a bad thing depending upon its severity and how everyone else in the family feels about it.
Dr. Susan S. Bartell, licenses psychologist adds “as with every child, your youngest will be challenging at times and, of course, wonderful at other times. As long as you do your best to learn about your child, make thoughtful parenting decisions and love all your children fully, your children will flourish and thrive happily.”