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What You Need to Know About Birth Order

Whether you're a firm believer in nature or squarely in the nurture camp, there seem to be multiple factors at work when it comes to raising a kid. In addition to the components of a child's sign that might influence his or her personality, research also points to birth order as one piece of the puzzle. For example, an oldest child Aries might interact with others, react to criticism and perceive the world differently from an Aries who is an only or middle child.

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Taking all of this into account, we examined how a child born into each element (Fire, Earth, Air or Water) might develop a unique personality based on his or her birth position.

FIRE SIGNS (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius): Warm, creative, spontaneous and gregarious, a Fire child likes to lead and expects others to follow. These vivacious tykes may just run their parents ragged with all their independence and energy. However, they can be sensitive to criticism, so parents should think about softening the blow when giving a Fire child a talking-to.

OLDEST: While Fire sign kids are known for being vibrant, an oldest child may become more introverted after a new baby arrives. Or they might turn defiant and flex their dominance over a younger sibling. However, in time, their warmth and talents will shine through.

MIDDLE: A middle Fire child will surely want to impress an older sibling. They may secretly seek approval, while being too proud to ask for it outright. Rambunctious and charismatic, they're apt to constantly test boundaries. By listening to them—and even doting a little bit—parents will be able to nurture their gentler side.

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YOUNGEST: A little positive feedback goes a long way with the youngest Fire sign kid, while harsh words may put a damper on their natural optimism. Simultaneously dynamic, obstinate and loyal, they'll look for warmth and affection from adults. The parents who give it to them could be rewarded with a child who is confident in his or her abilities to do anything.

ONLY: An only Fire child will be assertive, without becoming domineering or aggressive, as long as they're shown love and have clear boundaries. These kind-hearted kids will likely champion the underdog in any given situation.

EARTH SIGNS (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn): Wise beyond their years, Earth kids can seem like miniature adults. They can also be reserved: Even at a tender age, they may be uncomfortable expressing their feelings. That's why these curious kids are content to sequester themselves with a journal, a good book (including some cool sci-fi) or anything else they can study and marvel over.

OLDEST: As the oldest child, an Earth sign may demand respect—which the family unit better deliver, unless they want a mutiny on your hands! At the same time, elder Earth siblings tend to be fair players and kind teachers to the younger members of the brood.

MIDDLE: A middle Earth child will take on some of the traits of his or her elder sibling. For example, if an older brother or sister is calm and studies a lot, the middle child will follow suit. If an older is a know-it-all, the middle kid may try to outdo others as well. Deep down, they're grounded kids, but they'll do almost anything to make their parents happy.

MORE: How compatible are you with YOUR siblings? Order your Friends and Family Compatibility Report to find out!

YOUNGEST: As the youngest, an Earth child can be hard on him or herself (these kids are driven to succeed even when they're little). Though they're able get along with other children, they'll likely find one or two friends whom they trust the most and will probably stick close to those few people they feel comfortable around.

ONLY: An only Earth child will have patience to wait out a parent, and the rest of the world, until they get what they want. When they get like this, they might just be acting stubborn, or could be showing signs of innate wisdom beyond their young years (after all, it takes some maturity to be so determined).

AIR SIGNS (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius): Air children love to watch the people around them. They're born storytellers with vivid imaginations and the verbal skills to match. They can be impatient and impetuous, but only because they don't want to waste any time exploring the world and everything in it.

OLDEST: An eldest Air child will amuse a parent constantly with astute observations. They're apt to be a little rebellious, but they'll likely have the phone ringing off the hook for play dates because these magnetic little personalities attract friends so easily!

MIDDLE: Middle Air children tend to go one of two ways: They may have a flair for drama, or they could be ultra humble and pensive—even more so than any of their siblings. Naturally adaptable, they go where the wind takes them, assuming the side of their personality that's most likely to keep the peace (a hallmark of the middle child persona).

YOUNGEST: The youngest Air child will find ways to break rules when feeling suffocated, stifled or undermined by either parents or elder siblings. Even so, they are usually gentle, verbose and may stun people with their highly developed sense of individuality.

ONLY: Only Air children are headstrong and full of energy. They're usually able to take their talents and execute them to the limit—especially if they've been praised for a good job. Parents should be prepared to have a refrigerator door full of achievements on display!

WATER SIGNS (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces): Born with keen intuition, empathy and curiosity, Water sign kids have cool heads and hearts of gold. Their imaginative, pensive minds can be genius, but they tend to be insecure unless they receive enough positive feedback.

OLDEST: The eldest Water child tends to put personal wants and needs on the back burner when a sibling arrives, shelving deep feelings because an innate sense of duty calls. Making these youngsters feel heard and cared about will help them open up to and connect with others as they get older.

MIDDLE: Strong yet compassionate, a middle Water child will fight to the death in order to protect something or someone they hold dear (even that ratty old teddy bear). Though unruly at times, they're powerful souls who will likely astound a parent with their uncommonly good sense.

YOUNGEST: When a Water sign is the baby of the family, they may come across as intense. But they're also idealistic and sweet—even a cross look from a parent may send this child into despair. Don't count on them to be incredibly respectful; just keep in mind that they can be very secretive when they don't trust someone.

ONLY: With a large capacity for intuition and empathy, only-child Water signs are bound to form a strong attachment to their parents, so Mom or Dad might need to give their Water element child a little breathing room. Though loyal, only Water sign kids might feel a bit suffocated with too much attention. Their ability to understand others and feel deeply also makes these kids natural charmers.

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Image via Brian McEntire/Thinkstock

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