Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Middle Child Syndrome

Have you heard of Middle Child Syndrome?  I didn't know it was a real thing, but when Clara (my third child) was born, I started to worry about Sidney (my middle child).  I started to notice that when I wasn't caring for Clara, Ava (my oldest child) was constantly clamoring for my attention.  She's older, louder and bigger than Sidney so she often won out.  While I recognized that Ava had needs that she wanted met, it made me sad that Sidney was always the last to have her needs met.

There are a few characteristics of a child affected by Middle Child Syndrome:
- Feels like he or she doesn't fit in anywhere in the family, which affects self-esteem 
- Pulls away, becomes a loner
- Distrusting of others
- Feelings of emptiness or inadequacy
- Tendency to be introverted

Time Magazine wrote a very interesting article called The Power of Birth Order.  It points out that "unlike the firstborn, who spends at least some time as the only-child eldest, and the last-born, who hangs around long enough to become the only-child youngest, middlings are never alone and thus never get 100% of the parents' investment of time and money."

I looked around online to find out ways to prevent Middle Child Syndrome.  Here are some good tips that I've summarized:

1. Recognize and appreciate the uniqueness of each child
Don't compare your children to each other.  Each child has her own personality, weaknesses and strengths.  Compliment her and point out the good qualities about your child.  

2.  Avoid playing favorites
Often, a parent will develop a closer relationship with one child more than the other children.  Strive to have a special and unique relationship with each one.

3.  Take notice of how much time you are spending with each child
Be sure each parent has one-on-one time with each child.  Take an interest in your child’s hobbies and activities and give your full support.  Ask questions - this allows your child to know that you are interested in them, and it begins a conversation that leaves room for them to open up and talk.

4.  Try to put yourself in your child's spot
Children do not always tell their parents their problems or worries, so it is important to try to put yourself in your child's position. Try to see things from their point of view.  Children want to feel loved and can become jealous of siblings very easily, especially if they feel their brothers or sisters are being favored over them.

5.  Listen for hints that your child is feeling left out
Sometimes your child may come out and tell you that she is feeling lonely, and other times she will hint at it by saying she wants to play a game or read a book together.  If you're busy, carving out a small amount of time is better than nothing.  Better yet, if you can involve your child in what you are doing, you can take care of your needs and hers at the same time.

My husband, Tim, and I have talked a lot about this lately.  When we can, we split up the girls to have one-on-one time with Sidney.  We try to incorporate something educational but sometimes we just have fun doing what ever Sidney wants to do.  During my afternoon with Sidney one day, we went to the store to buy decorations for her birthday party, then we went to the mall.  I love how little it takes to please this girl.  All she wanted was a lollipop, a smoothie, a ride on the carousel and a balloon.  Oh, and she wanted to wear her "Super Bunny" cape while doing all of this.  I had the best day having Sidney all to myself!



 Tea cup ride on the Carousel


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1 comment:

Susie V said...

I worry about the same thing with my middle child. The younger one has immediate needs that can not be ignored, the older one is louder, and the middle one is left the middle. I liked seeing your outing with Sydney. I think I will try the same thing with our middle one.

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