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Middle child syndrome

When there’s a busy older child and a demanding younger child in the house, your middle child will often act out to get some attention. We have some insight to help you better understand your middle child, simple tips to include your middle child in activities and ways to deal with middle child outbursts.


The mysterious middle child

Psychologist Dr. Kevin Leman and bestselling author of the book The New Birth Order writes, “Any time a second born child enters the family, his lifestyle is determined by his perceptions of his older sibling.”

It’s a natural response for the middle child to look up to the first born just as it’s natural for the third-born to look up to the second born. However, according to Dr. Leman, “as the second child watches the first born in action, the second born develops a style of life his own. Because the older brother or sister is stronger, smarter and obviously bigger, the second born typically shoots off in another direction.”

Leman, along with authors Bradford Wilson and George Edington, are just a few who believe that second children are often mysterious and the most difficult to define because some middle children feel that they are born “too late” or “too soon.”

When a second child feels that he was born too late, he feels that he missed out on the privileges and special treatments that the first born experienced. When a second child feels like he was born too soon, he feels like he missed out on some lightening of discipline, which parents tend to do with a third child. All of this, according to Leman, makes for a mysterious middle child.

How to adjust your parenting style for your second child >>

Be mindful of your first born’s schedule and plan accordingly

Prepare your schedule and activities a day in advance to ensure that you not only have your oldest child’s after school sports equipment, but so you also include a special activity for your middle child.

Tip: Make your middle child feel included. For after school soccer practice, pack a small pop-up goal and an extra soccer ball so your middle child will feel like he has a special after school activity, too.

Carve out some time for your middle child — especially if you have a new baby

Your second child will never known what it could be like to be an only child, and while you are past that milestone with your oldest, your second child will definitely feel the pull — in three directions — with a new baby in the house. This can be a very confusing time for a young child so it’s best to make some time for one-on-one interaction and special activities.

Preparing for a new sibling’s arrival >>

Bring out those mysterious ways through creativity

It’s interesting that Dr. Leman asks his readers, “Are you aware that many successful entrepreneurs are middle children?” These watchers and thinkers are smart cookies but they can, and will, act out — especially as young children. Leman finds it to be more beneficial to learn about birth order and enhance or encourage your child’s strengths.

Tip: Encourage your middle child to express his emotions in creative ways — through drawings, song, dance and writing. By encouraging these outlets, it not only helps with frustration and outbursts, it can help redirect focus and spark new interests.

Should it be called “middle child syndrome?”

There is definitely some truth to the order in which you are born and the lifestyle that you live, but do parents use it as an excuse for their middle child? According to Dr. Leman, we should learn to overcome ingrained tendencies and use our birth order to our advantage.

Tell us

As a parent, how do you think you could help your middle child use his birth order to his advantage?

Read more about siblings

5 Tips for helping siblings and baby bond
Can siblings share bedrooms?
How to deal with sibling rivalry

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