Consequences Of Being The Middle Child

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.

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 5.57.49 PM

Sibling Rivalry

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.

Personality traits

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 ( 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.



5 thoughts on “Consequences Of Being The Middle Child

  1. Rebecca Danielle Schneider

    I like the blog topic you chose a lot! Being an only child myself, it is always interesting to hear from a difference perspective the lives of other siblings. I had no idea that the middle child gets little attention. My favorite part in your post was the paragraph on personality traits because I learned a lot that I didn’t know. While many of the points mentioned about middle children make sense, there is a little to no support to back up these claims. Is there any scientific data to make this conclusion valid? I think it would be beneficial to gather the findings from Reiches’ studies instead of merely stating his opinion. Also, when I went on the link you provided in the ‘personality traits’ paragraph, I was intrigued by the ‘exceptions’ paragraph, which was not included in your post. This paragraph allowed me to see that this syndrome does NOT apply to every middle child. Gender and disabilities are among these confounding variables. While there seems to be a stigma on middle children, here is an article I found on 18 Unexpected Perks of Being The Middle Child.

  2. Emanuel Gabriel Mitchell

    I have five brothers and two sisters, and I am the third youngest. In my family the middle child conflict is not prevalent, maybe since there are so many of us. On the other hand, I have found that being the middle child is not entirely bad. Many studies show that middle children are usually the most successful. They also use the statistic that 52% of U.S. presidents were middle children. Despite the negatives of being the middle child, the first born often encounters many challenges. A huge one can be never meeting their parents expectations, which makes them more susceptible to depression later in life. For more information follow this link .

  3. Lauren Mary Zelasko

    I find this post extremely intriguing as I kind of split being the middle child. I have an older brother, and a young brother, but also a twin brother. In my case, I feel as though the attention was drastically turned from my oldest brother, to his two new siblings, that when my youngest brother came around, he was used to not having much attention, and I had my twin brother to keep me entertained. Of course, this is all from a middle child’s prospective, but I’ve come to believe my youngest brother is the most outgoing, since he has the influences of three older siblings throughout his life. My oldest brother was entering high school when my youngest was entering kindergarten. He still had to pretend to believe in santa, and the easter bunny, and pretend to be excited about all those little first time things, even though he had to experience them twice as much with my twin brother and me. However, when my youngest brother entered high school last year, my oldest was already out of college. My youngest brother hasn’t believed in santa for six years. He knows all about drugs, and sex and plays plenty of violent video games, which would’ve been banned in our house while my oldest brother was growing up. While I know this completely goes against the idea of “Middle Child Syndrome”, its important to look at all the different factors that influence a kid while developing. I think the study should’ve expanded upon whether or not the size in age gaps make a difference, or even if living in a city versus living in a suburban area plays a role. Also, I wonder if outside family influence played a role, such as the role grandparents or cousins may have played. This does a very good job at describing all the different factors that go into a child’s development. I think you made a very great point with this post and you definitely have an interesting idea you could further develop on!

  4. pjt5135

    Samantha, I liked this article a lot because I am a middle child myself, second out of four. The part about the sibling rivalry was spot on; they happen often and they are over just about anything you can think of. Also, I would say that I am the most outgoing of the four of us; that is a combination of my age and most likely the vocalization that you spoke of.

    However, I think that middle children are a product of how attentive their parents are and also gender order. Take my family for instance: there are four of us, girl-boy-girl-boy. My mom decided to stay home for the rest of her life when she had my older sister. Also, my little sister and I never felt that middle child syndrome because even though I was a middle child, I was the first boy, and even though she is a middle child, she is the baby girl.

    Great article!

  5. Brandon Steidley

    My best friend in high school was the middle child of three boys, and although he didn’t have any severe mental problems or anything, he did have an odd relationship with his brothers. His older brother would tease and torment him when they were younger, but then when he was old enough to bully his younger brother, his older brother would protect the youngest and torture him for doing the exact same thing. Kind of a funny family dynamic, and the youngest brother turned out the be the biggest wimp of the three by far, and now my friend isn’t very close with either of his brothers. Not exactly what you were talking about, but is similar in some ways.

Comments are closed.