They are two pivotal and momentous moments in the lives of any family: when that first child and last child are born. Given the attention that goes to both of those children, those who fall in the middle may exhibit certain signs and behaviors that others do not. The birth order does make a difference, and those who are in the middle run the risk of developing a condition known as middle child syndrome. Middle children often feel ignored or loved less than others, and develop low self esteem.
This condition is often thought to develop in the middle born child, but can sometimes be found in any child born in between the oldest and the youngest. As psychologists are becoming increasingly aware of the issue, there are certain commonalities than run among many who are afflicted with it. Understanding how family order may affect this condition gives some clues as to how to treat it.
The effects of middle child syndrome are numerous. The child may feel as if he or she does not belong, given all the attention given to the oldest and youngest. The middle child may also feel as if he or she is loved less, have low self esteem, and suffer from a lack of a sense of direction. These symptoms are not limited only to childhood, however, and they can linger in a person throughout his or her entire adult life.
The good news is that the syndrome can be easily identified and is not physical in nature. It's very treatable, especially if noted early. Just a change in the parents' attitudes often will go a long way toward alleviating the situation. Parents should always be mindful that the middle born child often receives the least amount of attention. This is not to say the parents are bad, since it's a natural reaction and is often done subconsciously.
It is always up to the parents to make sure every child feels loved and appreciated. This is especially true when trying to avoid the effects of the middle child syndrome. Each child is unique and special. While it can be difficult, a concerted effort should be made to include all children in activities, as well as give each their own amount of individual attention.
When there are multiple siblings, parents should find the time to give each one individual attention. This may include a special night once a month, where one parent takes a child out while the other parent stays at home with the others. It may include a special time each day to talk about the child's life and feelings. These simple little things can help all children feel equal and be a benefit to all children in the family.