Firstly, for those of you who have never heard of ‘Middle child Syndrome‘, here’s a definition…
‘Middle child syndrome is a condition effecting children born in the middle. They experience feelings of jealousy towards their siblings, feel they are always being compared against them and generally have low self-worth. The middle child believes that unlike the eldest and the youngest child, they are not given much attention.‘
So is it true? Do we parents treat our middle children different? Are we not paying them enough attention which is resulting in them feel this way?
Well, I’ll begin by stating that I too am a middle child. I never felt inferior to my siblings growing up but I do feel more responsibility has always been put on me. Although, I think the reason behind this is because I am the eldest girl and was therefore just expected to help out more, nothing to do with the order we were born in. As for receiving enough attention, from what I can remember, when my parents weren’t working we spent a lot of time together as a family.
I’ve always been very close to my siblings, I’ve never felt jealous of them and I’ve never believed my parents gave one of us more attention than the other.
I believe nowadays children are more in tune with their emotions and therefore expect more from those around them. I have always tried that little bit harder to spend quality time with all my children making sure nobody feels left out. However, my middle child is still the most disruptive child out of the three, but he is also the most caring and loving.
Is this just his nature or is there any truth to this ‘middle child syndrome’ theory?
This is how I see the differences between children based on the order of birth:
Your first child is always special, just for being the first. It’s when parent’s lives takes a new direction, the journey of parenthood. And with it comes the learning curb, everything is new, suddenly a little life is in your hands and your whole life has to evolve around them. Your life is no longer your own. So you spoil this child rotten! You buy them new clothes, new toys (too many toys because your not sure what will help their development), you take millions of photos and selfies and you don’t mind the sleepless nights because it’s more bonding time.
Then your second child enters the world. Again a little bundle of joy is placed in your arms and this child is as special as the first. But now the differences between them begin. If your second child is of the same gender, you will not buy them new clothes. Your a little wiser and realise they will grow out of them far too quickly so it’s not viable to waste all that money. So the middle child will get ‘hand me downs’, and this will continue well into their teens – whilst the elder child will still be receiving new things. And that’s not the only thing that will be handed down – toys, shoes, books, bikes and anything else that is in good condition. And by now the sleepless nights will be getting the better of any mum or dad! So they will try to put a strict routine in place, for both children.
(Of course if they’re not the same gender then you will have to reinvest in clothes and maybe some toys.)
The third child, or last child, will always be the baby of the family. And that child will be treated like the baby for the rest of their life. They will have less duties and chores growing up due to the age gap and they tend to be more laid back as there are others to take the lead. They won’t care so much about the hand downs, because they’ll be spoilt in other ways. I have to admit at this point – my baby is so spoilt!
So as far as I can tell there is no significant reason for middle child syndrome. As long as parents show all their children love, do not favour one child over another and allow all children to develop according to their own personalities, there is no reason why any child should feel inferior.
It is crucial that every child understands their worth in their family.
I try to spend quality time with all my children. I will sit with them individually and ask about their day, I will find time to support their school work, I will also sit and watch TV with them – no matter if it’s wrestling, football or cartoons. But I have realised that sometimes there is just not enough time in the day. So I will ask my children to support each other. And when they’re not fighting, this works well and helps them form their own bonds. Another thing I do is give my middle and youngest child the choice of if they want hand downs, and most of the time they do as my eldest has a very stylish dress sense.
So do I believe ‘middle child syndrome’ is a real condition? I believe any child can suffer with the mentioned symptoms if not treated as an equal. I also feel for those families who are unable to dedicate time to each individual child, I understand life can become overwhelming and I am not here to criticise…