Middle child syndrome

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Middle child syndrome

The middle child syndrome is a disorder that affects middle children because of the lack of attention they suffer from at their early years.

The middle child syndrome is developed when the middle child finds himself in between the eldest child (the first born) who is always assigned the role of taking care of his younger siblings and the youngest child who is showered with attention all the time and thus he feels neglected and unloved.

Do all Middle children suffer from this syndrome?

The main reason the middle child syndrome is debated is that not all middle children develop the same personality traits which raises questions about the existence of such a syndrome.

The point many of those people missed is that they didn't take into consideration that there are other factors that affect the personality development of a middle child other than the birth order. For example:

  • Parenting style could prevent middle child syndrome: If the parent was cautious with his children not to make any of them feel neglected then the middle child might not develop the middle child syndrome. (see How parenting styles affect your personality)
  • The middle child's coping style: If the middle child learned how to avoid problems (by watching his parents for example) then most probably he will develop middle child syndrome. However if the middle child learned how to properly adapt to life problems then he will grow into a healthy adult

Middle child syndrome symptoms

As the result of the unfavorable conditions described earlier the middle child develops the following symptoms:

  • Low self esteem: One of the main symptoms of the Middle child syndrome is the low self esteem experienced by the middle child as a result of feeling unloved
  • Social withdrawal: The other famous symptom of the Middle child syndrome is social withdrawal where the middle child starts to take a side because of fearing that his friends will neglect him the same way his parents did
  • No sense of direction: The middle child might also feel lost and fail to determine the direction he should take in life as a result of not being sure whether he is worthy or not
  • Need for approval: Another symptom that can show the existence of Middle child syndrome is the need for approval. In my article how birth order affects Marriage i explained how some middle children become demanding and needy as a result of wanting to feel loved and approved

Middle child syndrome treatment

The good news is that even if you suffer from Middle child syndrome you can still seek treatment and become a healthy adult.

In fact understanding a psychological disorder by reading about it just as you did few seconds ago is the first step towards treatment.

Once you start building self esteem while knowing that it wasn't your fault that you developed that disorder you will feel much better. Start by building your self esteem now so that you can get over Middle child syndrome quickly.

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Want to know more?

Parenting mistakes Parents make with their children

How birth order affects personality

How culture affects personality

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