Middle child syndrome

Birth order, which is the order in which siblings are born referring to their age, has psychological effects on every single child, whether it is the first child, the second child, the third child, the fourth child, etc. Stereotypically speaking, the first child is the one who is coddled; the last child is the spoiled rotten one; and the middle child (or children) is simply just there, seemingly forgotten in the midst. In some cases, these stereotypes don’t exist even in the slightest, but nevertheless, much research has been done on the topic of the middle child syndrome. The syndrome does not just occur in the child who falls smack dab in the middle, but any child who is not the youngest or the oldest.

What Is Middle Child Syndrome?
Middle child syndrome is the psychological effect that takes a serious toll on the mind of a middle child. It is the feeling of always being in between, not being noticed, and not being heard. Many parents don’t even know if their middle child is experiencing the symptoms of middle child syndrome, but be warned, because it does exist, simply because of birth order. The middle child often feels that the siblings are more important. Identity issues play a major part in the crux of the problem.

Characteristics and Symptoms
The first and most obvious characteristic is that of not being the oldest, nor the youngest child, but being in the middle age-wise. Following trends and not leading is a common attribute. There are many emotions and feelings associated with the middle child syndrome, such as a lack of belonging, low self-esteem, reclusion, no sense of direction (lack of motivation and drive), and having issues with trust. The sad thing is, these symptoms can last all the way through adulthood if the parents do not recognize them and do something positive about them.

What Can You Do?
As a parent, the cure for middle child syndrome is in your hands. The best thing you can do is prevent the child from ever feeling resentful toward others or unloved in any way. Each child needs to be given individual attention, especially since children can have a variety of different interests as compared to their siblings. It’s important to pay attention to each child and what he or she is interested in; even doing what he or she enjoys once a week would be nice. However, don’t take this as saying that you only need to spend time with the middle child once a week; that is not true at all, and a total misconception. The idea is to make each child feel equally loved and appreciated. Doing group activities is also a great idea so everyone feels included at the same time.

As a parent, you can also take time to listen; even if your kid acts like the last thing he or she wants to do is talk, this is not always the case. Each child is different, and some are just not as assertive as others. The last thing you want is to have a child feel resentful toward you or feel that you don’t love him or her. Getting rid of competition between siblings will also make things a lot easier in the short and long run; everything isn’t about who is better, faster, stronger, or smarter. Make sure your children know that. Lastly, make your love known. Using the three words, “I love you,” can have a very significant impact on a vulnerable child that needs to hear them. Give hugs often and don’t forget how much you love each child!

Last updated on Oct 20th, 2011 and filed under Mental Health. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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