Middle Child Syndrome Characteristics

Updated April 17, 2017

A middle child was born between the oldest and youngest children in a family that has three kids. Many parents do not realise how a child's age in relation to his or her siblings' can affect personality, development and state of mind--even in the most loving of families. Additionally, parents often cling more to the oldest and youngest children because they represent the beginning of parenthood and the end of that era. Understanding the characteristics of Middle Child Syndrome can help you notice and better handle parenting three children. The changes you make based on this information could change your middle child's life in a positive way.

Lack of Self-Esteem

The middle child often feels like he or she doesn't fit in anywhere in the family. The oldest child is looked at as the leader of the children, the youngest child is seen as the baby and is often nurtured more. The middle child is caught somewhere in the middle and this effects self-esteem because of feeling unwanted or having a lack of belonging in the family. Catching self-esteem issues as a result of being a middle child early could alleviate a lifetime of low self-esteem. Build your child up, keep an eye on his interaction with your other two children and make sure he's getting the respect he deserves. Ignore your natural tendency to show more love to the oldest and youngest and do your best to treat all of your children the same.

Becoming Disconnected

The middle child is often not as outgoing or extroverted as the older and younger siblings. Because of this, the middle child might pull away even more and become a loner. This is also tied to self-esteem and lack of belonging in the family. Even in the most supportive of situations, the child might not feel like he or she can lean on the parents or siblings for support, so they are forced to lean on themselves for support. This carries over into other parts of life as the child gets older. Parents must rope their middle children back in, give them important responsibilities, ask questions and try to evoke from the child a comfort with talking and being open.

Lack of Trust

Children in two-child families or single-child families count on their parents for support, and learn important trust lessons from trusting their parents. But middle children quite often miss out on developing a sense of trust as a result of feeling out of place, ignored or unloved in a three-child family. The child learns to trust only himself, and this causes major development issues as the child gets older. It's important that you as a parent nurture your child and develop in him the trust that is necessary for proper development.

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About the Author

Mitchell Holt has a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Abilene Christian University and has been freelancing since 2009 with work published in various newspapers and magazines like "BostonNOW" and "The Abilene Reporter-News." Holt also writes sales copy for small businesses. His clients include The Kyle David Group, ITNewton, 18 Vodka, RoboQuote and more.