The Middle Child Syndrome is a phenomenon where middle children often perceive that they are neglected, resulting in distinctive characteristics in their personalities. To address this issue, we have compiled some suggestions that can assist you in bringing out the best in your middle child and fostering a supportive family environment.
Middle children, like all children, will have their own particular needs, which may be complicated because they were born in the middle. For instance, they may perceive that they are living in the shadow of an older sibling or that they do not receive as much attention as the youngest sibling. As a result, middle children may have the experience of being left out and not fully comprehended, a phenomenon commonly referred to as “middle child syndrome.”
Find out more about the common characteristics of middle child syndrome, along with some helpful hints on bringing out the best in your middle child.
What exactly is Middle Child Syndrome?
The order in which a person was born can, of course, affect their personality, but this is not an exact science. The oldest children, for instance, have a greater propensity to be trustworthy and conscientious. Because first-time parents tend to be very “by the book” and give their undivided attention to their children, these children may have personalities characterized as Type A and lean towards tendencies of perfectionism.
On the other hand, last-born children tend to have different personality characteristics than firstborn children, such as a greater propensity to seek out enjoyable experiences. This is because their parents are more at ease and have more experience raising younger children. On the other hand, because younger siblings often try to live up to the standards set by older siblings, they are often more self-centered and attention-seeking than their older counterparts.
So what place does the child in the middle have? They are probably not praised as much as their older sibling or coddled as much as their younger sibling, which may cause them to feel excluded or neglected. [Cause and effect] They may also lack a sense of where they belong within the family due to this phenomenon, which is referred to as middle child syndrome. They could say, “No one listens to or understands what I say.” Additionally typical: “My older brother gets to participate in all of the exciting activities first, while everyone coddles my younger sister. I’m left out.”
Symptoms and characteristics of middle child syndrome:
Middle children may act defiantly or try to please others to make up for what they perceive to be a lack of attention from those around them. Their behavior may be partially influenced by the temperament of their older sibling. For instance, if the older sibling has a routine and is responsible, the younger child may act out to steal some of the focus away from the older sibling.
Middle children frequently resort to extremes in order to attract attention. This is the reason why some middle children dye their hair purple or become fanatics about a particular singing group — because they need an identity so desperately.
Due to the fact that they must frequently compromise throughout their lives, middle children also tend to be more agreeable and mild-mannered than other children. According to Michelle P. Maidenberg, Ph.D., a child and family therapist, “middle children end up deferring to the wants and needs of the oldest and the youngest a lot of the time.” This helps them become more independent while also keeping their expectations grounded in reality. In addition, middle children have the propensity to seek out more relationships outside of the family; as a result, they frequently have large social circles and friendships that are particularly close.
Adults who suffer from middle-child syndrome:
Middle children often mature into adults who retain many characteristics they honed during their time in the middle. Consider Holly Schrock, a 31-year-old stay-at-home mother of five from Newtown, Pennsylvania, who was the middle child in her family when she was growing up. “I wasn’t a bad kid, but I definitely was pushing the limits, says Schrock. I was definitely going a little out there,” she admitted.
When Schrock was a teenager, she got into a fight with her parents, which led to her running away from home for three days. This incident occurred during one of the fights. Schrock acknowledges that she has, in the intervening time, become more level-headed. Still, she insists that she will not put up with nonsense from anyone. She states, “I don’t like it when anyone tells me what to do, period.”
The middle child may struggle with issues of codependency or low self-confidence if they experienced neglect throughout their childhood. They may also be particularly skilled at mediating disagreements, whether in their personal or professional lives.
How to Deal with the Behavior Caused by Middle Child Syndrome
According to what Cliff Isaacson and Kris Radish write in The Birth Order Effect, for a middle-born child to compete with the attention that may be given to a firstborn and a youngest-born child, that child must feel acceptance precisely for who they are. This article will discuss ways to combat middle child syndrome.
Make an effort to reassure them.
In the event that your child acts irresponsibly, it is important to stress that the consequence they receive is not in any way connected to their siblings, nor does it alter the fact that you continue to care about them. When dealing with a child who was born in the middle of a group, it is especially important to explain the reason behind the punishment. This child may already feel lost in the mix.
Don’t forget about them.
Provide your child who falls in the middle with an adequate amount of attention so that they will not feel the need to act out. Your middle child will be less likely to try to get your attention by painting Picassos all over the living room wall if you lavish praise on the incredible paintings they have created using the easel if you do this.
Wallace gives the piece of advice to “tune into the middle child.” “When you are sitting down to eat, make sure to inquire about the middle child’s day. Spend some one-on-one time with the child in the middle. Put a date in [their] calendar so they know it is coming up.” When you pay special attention to the middle child, you are assuring them that they are just as important as their younger and older siblings and preventing them from feeling as though they have been overlooked.
Make a big deal out of their accomplishments.
When your second-born child (or third-born child, or fourth-born child, or fifth-born child) gets a gold star for their book report, it probably won’t be as exciting for you as it was when your firstborn child did everything they were supposed to do and more. Isaacson and Radish write that you should reassure your child by saying things like “you are a part of the family,” but you should also recognize their individual accomplishments as ones that deserve to be celebrated.
Your oldest child won the spelling bee for the entire district, right? Even though it may seem like a good idea for your child who was born in the middle to follow in their parent’s footsteps, this can be a breeding ground for feelings of resentment and inferiority. Instead, you should be encouraging your middle child to find their own area of interest, whether it be academics, athletics, or the arts. If the oldest child is academically successful, the middle child may feel pressure to follow in his or her footsteps and may instead choose to pursue an artistic path. Because of their unique position in the family, middle children are often encouraged to pursue creative pursuits.
Maintain open communication.
In an ideal world, everyone would have the ability to read minds. However, it can be extremely difficult for a parent to differentiate between a child’s expression “I’m hungry” and one “I’m upset.” Even if your middle child is experiencing feelings of being ignored, they might not express those feelings. Wallace suggests that a solution to this problem would be to “Talk to them about the experience of [being] the middle kid.” “You could explain it like this: “Taking care of the newborn while also helping your older brother prepare for high school is challenging.” Talk to us if you’re feeling excluded from the group. Tell us, ‘I need attention.’
No more secondhand items, please.
Okay, it could be a smaller number. While it’s fine to give your middle child the occasional hand-me-down, he or she may be especially appreciative of a brand-new coat or jacket. A child in the middle of a family may be especially grateful for a new coat or jacket because it is necessary. Similarly, giving your middle child special privileges, such as letting them choose and watch a movie without interruption from their younger siblings, can help them feel more unique and important.
Take notes of the memories.
Above all else, you should ensure that the family photo album contains a few pictures of your child in the middle. Do not allow [them] to suffer the fate of the stereotypical younger sibling, which is to see thousands of pictures of the older sibling and only a few of them in comparison. Also, make sure that you give some of your middle-born children time alone and not just with their older or younger siblings all the time.
Meaningful articles you might like: 4 Ways To Start A Positive Parenting Routine, 8 Parenting Issues To Discuss Before Baby, What Is Your Parenting Style?