Brothers and Sisters

The Order of Birth in the Family

Karl König; Foreword by Niki Powers and Colwyn Trevarthen

Out of print

Quick Look

A new edition of a classic reference on child development. Explains the characteristics of first-, second- and third-born people.

216 x 138 mm
Floris Books
Parenting & Child Health
96 pages
Publication date:
29 Apr 2004
Classics of Anthroposophy
2nd edition


'There can be no doubt that special traits of character and mental make-up are found in children and adults who belong to the different ranks in the order of birth.'

In this classic work from 1963, Karl König attempts to explain the various characteristics of first-, second- and third-born people, without losing sight of the tremendous individuality of the human being.
Just as our environment shapes our language, social behaviour and mannerisms, so our place in the family also determines how we encounter life.

This book is an invaluable handbook for parents, teachers and carers. Over the years it has become a definitive reference on the subject of child development.


'Readers will approach this book from their respective family positions, which in my case is the first of four. It was striking to see the first-born characterised as a defender of faith, tradition and the family against new ideas and action. Surely the balance is critical here.'
-- David Lorimer, Scientific & Medical Network, Summer 2004

'For me the most telling aspect was how much König's descriptions of the first, second, third child and so on fitted so closely with characteristics we'd noticed in our children.'
-- Education Otherwise

-- Desmond Morris, author of 'The Naked Ape'


Karl König (1902-66) was well-known as a physician, author and lecturer. He began his work at the Institute of Embryology at the University of Vienna. In 1940 he founded the Camphill Movement in Scotland. Based on the educational ideas of Rudolf Steiner, the special education schools for children and villages for adults with special needs are now established all over Britain and Europe, North America and Southern Africa. He is the author of The First Three Years of the Child (Floris Books).

Professor Colwyn Trevarthen is Professor of Psychology at the University of Edinburgh.


See a full list of the books in the Karl König Archive series

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