What do Billy Crystal, Jim Carrey, Katie Couric, and Cameron Diaz all have in common? Obviously they’re all celebrities—but they’re also all the youngest children in their families.
When it comes to family order, youngest children sometimes come out the lucky ones. While their baby books might not be completely filled out (Mom and Dad were probably too busy and/or exhausted to record every lost tooth and every new word by the time the youngest child showed up), research has shown that youngest children frequently develop some very positive character traits, along with more challenging ones.
Why is this? Researchers don’t know exactly—there are more than 2,000 studies on birth order in the National Institutes of Health database. But some speculate that youngest children are partly shaped by reduced one-on-one time and less intensive attention from their parents (is that a good thing or bad thing?).
Of course, every family is different and everything from a death in the family to a large age gap between the oldest and youngest child (and those in between), divorce, remarriage, adoption, gender, size, and many other factors can affect a child’s personality more than birth order. Yet these are traits that researchers commonly find in youngest children:
- More agreeable
- Famous youngest children include Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz.
- Youngest children might be shaped by less intensive focus from their parents.
- Youngest-child traits include being charming, affectionate, immature, rebellious, artistic, and others.
- All families are different, so while these traits are associated with youngest children, it's impossible to generalize.