Middle Child Syndrome: What You Should Know

According to experts, the levels of attention we receive from our parents during childhood influence our personality.
Middle Child Syndrome: What You Should Know

Last update: 09 February, 2021

Although there’s no clear consensus, personality psychology defends the idea that individuals develop certain traits depending on the order of their birth. Older and younger siblings seem to receive the most attention, while those in the middle may feel ignored. This can lead them to develop middle child syndrome. In this article, we’ll talk more about it.

How does birth order influence individuals?

According to psychologists Laure Fiasse and Vassilis Saroglou, the order of birth decisively influences the character and personality of individuals. For example, older siblings, being the firstborn, tend to be more responsible and ambitious, while assuming a leadership role.

On the other hand, we have the youngest siblings. They tend to monopolize all the attention and sympathy not only from their parents and other relatives, but also from individuals who aren’t part of the family circle.

Middle Child Syndrome: What You Should Know

In regard to middle siblings, their position in the family is no longer as clear as before and they sometimes run the risk of receiving less attention from their parents. This can lead them to manifest what is known as the middle child syndrome.

Effects of middle child syndrome

Oftentimes, with the arrival of a newborn, parents tend to direct all their attention to the new member of the family. This affects the amount of affection they devote to the rest of their children. In the case of the eldest siblings, they no longer require excessive attention from their parents because they received it properly during their childhood.

As for the middle siblings, they’re probably deprived of the care they need and may feel displaced and ignored. As a result, they can react to this situation by seeking attention; they can manifest negative behavior, display a different temperament, etc.  They do this in order to set themselves apart and stand out from the rest of their siblings.

There’s a possibility that they’ll feel excluded by not finding a suitable place in the family. Hence, it can lead them, on many occasions, to look elsewhere for that place. This is why many of them place more trust and affection in their friends or partners than in their own relatives.

Main traits of the middle child syndrome

As psychologist Kevin Leman puts it, since middle children are often in the center of any given situation, they tend to develop great negotiating skills. Hence, they can adopt the role of family peacemaker as a consequence.

Middle Child Syndrome: What You Should Know

“Children learn their role in the family.”

– Kevin Leman –

On the other hand, having been children who sought attention in non-family relationships, they become very sociable people. That is, they learn to value these types of relationships and, therefore, develop skills over time to create friendships and intimate relationships.

With that in mind, other significant social characteristics that middle children have is loyalty and fidelity; considering they deeply value their friends and partners.

To conclude, it’s important to clarify that, although middle siblings adopt a more independent lifestyle and rely more on relationships outside of the family circle, this doesn’t mean that they don’t value family ties. The reality is that the bonds they establish with their families are truly strong. 

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.