I am the youngest of the three children in my family, or as my mom refers to me as “the baby,” the last one in the household to grow up. I love being the youngest in my family, but then it got me thinking what would it be like to be the middle child.
Middle Child Syndrome
- The middle child syndrome is a condition in which children born in the middle experience feelings of emptiness, inadequacy, and/or jealousy. Many types of therapists and behaviorists have studied two main causes of this, which is identity crisis and lack of emotional support. It is a big issue when you are the middle child because the child has no idea where he or she fits in. “‘the middle child often feels left out and a sense of, ‘well. I’m not the oldest. I’m not the youngest. Who am I?’ says therapist Meri Wallace .” Dr. Georgia Michalopoulou claims middle children tend to feel invisible and receive less attention in comparison to the older and younger children. The older children gain the benefits of all the “firsts” that they accomplish, and the younger children are usually spoiled because they are the “baby” of the family. In the grand scheme of things they wonder were they belong because they feel unimportant when growing up. Middle children may even grow resentful when the parents turn their attention to the oldest and the baby. Dr. Alfred Alder first brought the effect of birth order to life, suggesting that birth order has a strong affect on a child’s character.
Since the middle child in general has to fight for their parent’s attention, they tend to become jealous of their siblings. Dr. Sam Von Reiche has studied the sibling rivalry a middle child feels. The middle child wont get the same type of attention from his or her parents that his other siblings receive for their accomplishments. When he or she “learns to jump rope or hit a baseball, his parents aren’t as excited as they were the first time around with the older child.” There is a point where the middle child will just start to resent the other siblings and the feeling of invisibility will build up and make the middle child lash out in anger.
A mom Holly Schrock says her middle child Maggie is an “attention getter with a mildly rebellious streak.” Middle children tend to be “rebels” compared to their other siblings, an example being Charles Darwin, who was in fact a middle child. Other studies (http://www.everydayfamily.com/the-middle-child-syndrome/?pg=2&internallink=the-middle-child-syndrome#post-1968) look more into personality traits of a middle child. Middle children are usually more outgoing than the older and younger siblings. One theory about this is middle children learn from a young age they need to more vocal in order to get the attention turned onto them. Dr. Sam Von Reiche also states the middle child will probably end up having a well-developed social life and participate in more extra curricular in order to find a place to fit in.
Solutions to stop the Middle Child Syndrome
Obviously, not every single middle child feels this way, but there are enough studies to assume if the parents don’t put in effort a middle child might not feel he or she is getting the attention they deserve. Parents obviously do not mean to be unsupportive towards a child, but it may just happen that way. To fix this problem, the parents must be aware of it, and making sure they give the middle child extra attention to ensure they know that they feel loved. As the youngest, I have never had to suffer or feel this “syndrome” but it makes me wonder if my sister feels that way, and if my parents can do anything to stop it.