What is Middle Child Syndrome?

If you are a single child or a parent of a kid or two, this is probably not an issue for you or your kids. Middle child syndrome. Is this real or just a myth?

Every individual has unique personalities and behaviors affected by factors such as environment, nurturing, peers, and even hormones. If you are a parent with three kids or more, you might notice this behavior to your middle child, or your second child, if you have three kids.

Personality development is a very crucial and complex process in a person’s life. The early-stage takes place during childhood, and the birth order of children might also influence this process. For the first time, parents, the firstborn child, is given full love, attention, and care and expected to be the role model of any younger sibling. Thus, making him or her act “perfect,” confident, and mature.

Middle Child Syndrome originated from the birth order theory in 1964 of Alfred Adler, a physician, psychotherapist, and the founder of Adlerian psychology, also known as individual psychology. It believes that middle children have this psychological condition of having feelings that they are often neglected, ignored, or excluded. They are often bombarded by negative thoughts of unworthiness, inadequacy, emptiness, jealousy, and are characterized by low self-esteem and extreme seclusion from the outside world

Birth order and the child’s personality

Although several factors affect a child’s personality, most scholars, such as Adler, still believe that unique traits and personality are also affected by birth order. But in his study, he noted that birth order is not the sole factor affecting personality but also the environment.

First Born: Role Models

If you are a firstborn child or knows someone who is the eldest sibling, check on them if they are more authoritarian and feel all-powerful, confident, and mature. It is believed to be the result of the parents’ high expectations and full attention until the second child is born.

Middle Children: Attention-seeker

Second-time parents tend to be more confident, relaxed, easy-going, less anxious, and less demanding than the firstborn child. It results in children becoming a more relaxed attitude towards life than their older siblings. However, they have to compete for parents’ attention against the milestones set by the oldest, and growing up in their shadow.

There is also the feeling of ‘trying to be heard and get noticed.’ That is why the middle child strives harder for the spotlight and the family’s affirmation, that they are also unique and have the same value as the eldest. Adler also believed that the second child or the middle child tries to follow and catch up to older siblings and is the most likely to be better adjusted to life in general than other birth orders.

Last Born: The Baby

According to Adler, the youngest child cannot be dethroned by another sibling. In most families, the youngest child gets the most attention since the older children have moved on to the independence stage of their lives, thus putting most of the attention to the youngest – the baby. They are often spoiled and demanding.

The good side of being born in the middle order

Dr. Catherine Salmon, a psychology professor at the University of Redlands in California and co-author of the book “The Secret Power of Middle Children,” tried to explain the facts from myths concerning the middle children.

According to Salmon, middle born children are less parent-oriented, but that does not mean they don’t care about relationships. In her study in 1998 with her colleague, Professor Martin Daly, 400 undergraduate students were surveyed as a part of the research. One of the questions they were asked is who in their family they would turn to for help, was it their parents or siblings. Results reveal that first and lastborns answered mother and father while middleborns generally chose their brothers or sisters.

According to her another study, middle children tend to get along with many different personality types; therefore, they make great partners. She added that middleborns are like ‘Type O blood,” as they go smoothly with almost everyone. Getting firstborns and lastborns together might cause conflict because they have similar personalities that might clash, unlike middleborns, who are great at negotiating and much more willing to go with the flow.

Moreover, middleborns appear to be less likely to cheat on their partners, which might reflect how much they value relationships. As usually forced to be more independent than other child orders, middleborns are also more open-minded and willing to explore new things, which allows them to find their path and make them more likely to experiment.

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