When there are three or more children in a family, the kids in the middle tend to feel more ignored than the others. Usually, the firstborn child is the one that receives the biggest amount of care and attention, while the rest of the children are left to look after themselves on their own. As a result, many kids grow up with certain personality characteristics due to the way they were raised.
Parents are very excited when the first child comes, and by the time the second child arrives, they already feel so relaxed because they are equipped with parenting skills. The level of excitement is much lower. It’s not that they don’t care about the other children – it’s just that now they automatically react to the child’s needs, feeling much more confident in the role of a parent.
The middle child syndrome
In 1964, psychologist Alfred Adler studied the birth order and its influence on personality development. At that time, his theory that the birth order impacts greatly the child’s psychological development was not widely accepted.
He believed that the oldest child has more authority among his/her siblings due to parents’ higher expectations. This makes the child a natural leader.
He also believed that the middle sibling often has difficulties finding their place in life. Being stuck between the oldest child and the youngest, they try their best to win their parents’ attention. They might carry this feeling of rejection throughout their life.
About the youngest sibling, Adler claimed that these kids usually get special treatment and are often spoiled. Most of the parents’ rules don’t count for them, so they enjoy bigger freedom.
Middle child’s characteristics
Many psychologists examined the influence of birth order on the middle sibling’s personality. Some of the common characteristics are the following:
The middle kid usually feels like the firstborn and the baby are more significant, so they crave to find the place that seems lost to them. That is why these kids are more silent, quiet, and even-tempered.
The middle siblings get fewer responsibilities than older children and less attention than younger siblings. That is why they feel ignored or even less valued. But in most cases, it was proved that their perception is not true.
These kids quickly learn that life is about competition. Middle-born kids compete to win their parents’ affection, so they become competitive adults.
Does middle child syndrome influences adults?
The personality and relationship traits develop since childhood and usually stay throughout the whole lifetime. Middle kids often have and express feelings of being neglect. This results in having issues of co-dependency in adulthood. Today researchers still study the relationship between birth order and the middle child syndrome. One study showed that middle siblings are more vulnerable to developing obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, schizophrenia, autism, eating disorders, and anxiety disorders.
Middle-child syndrome is not only a theory
Middle kids avoid communicating with their parents because they feel neglected. One study from 2016 revealed that these kids are less family-oriented and don’t consider their parents as confidant people. Another study from 2003 showed that middle children tend to be more depressed than others.
However, we cannot rely on research fully because it is contradictory. Some of them prove this theory, and some of them not.