What Is Middle Child Syndrome?
If you have more than two children, you will notice odd behavior in your middle child. It’s hard to say what because somehow, you are in denial, but it’s there. The feeling of being excluded, unnoticed, and taken for granted are always the sentiments of the middle child. Does birth order have anything to do with how parents treat their child and how a child feels?
Middle child syndrome is the behavior of a child where he always seems to be fighting for something. He will be mostly hateful and envious of his other siblings, and although parents may not agree that this is their doing, somehow all their actions or the circumstances surrounding the birth order contribute to this kind of behavior. “Middle children tend to be non confrontational and more closed off.” Kevin Leman, a psychologist said.
Reasons Why Middle Children Feel The Way They Feel And Ways Parents Can Handle Them Better:
- If you have three children, you have to admit that there’s a particular feeling you feel for your eldest. The sense of confidence and trust is there. You are always looking forward to his milestones that often shadow that of your second child. Be careful of your words and actions that they do not imply any favoritism.
- Have you ever set a rule for your eldest that you also implemented on your middle child because their age is close? Trying to force him to develop and grow like you’re his older sibling is entirely All children are different in many ways, even the identical twins, so never have a comparison between any of them.
- Your eldest had a lot of privileges including the right to try and fail over again. Subconsciously, somehow, we expect our middle child to do good the first time just because the eldest already got it. Give the same chances as you did on your first. He may learn faster or slower, but the point is the chances you should give your middle child should depend on his capabilities, not his siblings’.
- Your youngest child typically gets all the attention and favors. You may often ask the older siblings to watch over your youngest which is okay, but keep in mind that your middle child was once the youngest. Maybe you had your youngest sooner than you should, and the feeling of not having the most attention has not sunk in yet. Give him time to adjust. Never force him to understand this all at once.
- Never expect and force your child to be as responsible as your eldest, and never force him to understand your youngest child’s tantrums. Remember that he is still a child. He could throw a tantrum of his own, so don’t expect him to be patient and understanding of his other siblings. Instead, help him. Make him understand.
“When it comes to birth order, there can be some differences between the children based on their position in the family,” says Dr. Jaime Kulaga, Ph.D. Admit it, parents, sometimes we said and made some things which contributed to our middle child’s feeling of resentment and hate. It may never be intentional, but it should be our full intention to give each one of our children undivided attention.
What Can You Do To Get Your Child Out Of This Syndrome?
- Set alone time with him. Having more than two children is way too much sometimes. We only have two arms, two hands, and two sides, and having three of them could somehow cause a problem. Who holds your skirt or the other sibling’s hand? Who stays at your front or back? Who gets to sit beside you?
Remember that these choices could mean different when it comes from your middle child’s point of view. He is coming from his observations, not yours, so make a separate time with him where he can have all your time for himself and not weigh his worth with every decision you make.
- Ask him what he wants instead of buying him what you bought for his other siblings. Your middle child has his preference, so don’t go buying him stuff you think he would like just because his other siblings do. Ask him. You will realize that he has more opinion for himself than you think.
- Explain to him his responsibilities as a younger and older sibling in a manner that he is still entitled to his own identity and would not feel worthless. Sometimes, you tend always to emphasize how he needs to respect and follow his older sibling, which is excellent. However, make sure he also gets the same from his younger sibling. He is, after all, older than the youngest, so don’t go yelling at him if your youngest is screaming and acting up blaming your middle child. He deserves the same respect you’re asking from him.
- Make him in charge of some important things or chores that you would usually entrust your eldest. Make him feel your trust and confidence in him. Yes, he may fail sometimes, but he is still learning. Never make him see or feel your frustration.
- Pamper him as you do with your youngest. Maybe you can buy him treats only for him. Make him feel special, that he is not just one of your children, but he is your child. You can, in fact, do this to all of them. Set an alternate time where you buy one for each and again based on their preference.
Jaclyn Shlisky, Psy.D., often reminds everyone that “Focus more on how your children make progress by comparing them to themselves—if they are progressing each day, each week, each month, that’s what really matters. Every day try to find a small win.” Parenting a child is challenging, so much more so three or more children. Yes, it is next to impossible, but that’s the magic of being a parent. We can be everything and do just about everything. Remember that they are only young once, so don’t fret. Someday, they will grow up and have a mind of their own. Make sure you did your best in helping them build a great foundation.