The Middle Child

How to Overcome The Middle Child Syndrome

Middle Child Syndrome is the common misbelief that all middle children are destined to behave a certain way outlined by classic (and long-expired) psychologists. Although the purported condition has been widely debunked, one thing is for certain – it is an inaccurate categorization of Middles. There is so much more to becoming a middle child – big goals, joys, realizing dreams, aspirations, and the means to change the world for the better.

Life is determined by holism – from where we get the word holistic. The whole is greater than the sum of all parts. Our childhood is determined by a series of environmental, social, political, cultural, and religious (or lack thereof) factors. Birth order is certainly not the be-all-end-all indicator of success or failure. But as the legendary Greek Philosopher, Protagoras once said, “man is the measure of all things.”

In a nutshell, we control our lives.

A middle child has the strength and ability to refute Middle Child Syndrome and the opportunity to seize the ideal results that they desire. Parents and guardians can step in to make a positive impact and discourage self-defeating thoughts. Ultimately, the true power to succeed lies in the hands of the hero in our tale, the middle child.

Middle Child Mistruth: Low Self-Esteem 

Middles are wrongly perceived to have a lowered self-esteem due to a childhood of giving in to the eldest and youngest in the family. This leads to the notion that middles don’t really place much thought into their own feelings and ideas. 

Some people may assume that this causes middles to engage in reclusive and self-faulting behavior. They might also be mistaken for being long-suffering victims of bullies (who exploit their insecurities) in school and at the workplace.

Parents can prevent this by strengthening the self-belief in ALL of their children from a young age. Read stories to them, encourage them to role-play, let each child take turns in becoming the hero of the fable. As children grow up, entrust them with independence – start with training wheels and gradually release them and watch them develop into successful and independent adults. 

Middles don’t have to stoop to serve their siblings, they are uniquely amazing individuals who deserve the same respect as anyone else.

Successful middles believe in themselves. They understand the importance of equality among siblings and society as a whole. Strong middle children don’t concede to others simply because their views are being challenged. 

Middles are always eager to prove that they have something special to share with the world and they will strive to hold onto personal values. It takes time to build and develop self-esteem through learning from life’s encounters. This is regardless of a person’s birth order. However, middle children might be the fastest learners as they draw valuable lessons from the experiences of the eldest, while guiding the youngest.

Middle Child Mistruth: Antisocial Behavior

Untrusted sources claim that middle children tend to be  antisocial. It is believed that this stems from being overlooked and underappreciated by siblings and caregivers. As such, it is assumed that middles grow up to become grudgeful and embittered individuals who avoid social situations. 

Parents and guardians can prevent this by spending quality time with all of their children – especially Middles who seem more inclined toward the sensitive side. Promote and organize activities that siblings can participate together. Take your children to the carnival, art exhibition, local football game, and any other event that exposes them to a wide array of social scenarios. 

This will help children learn and emulate the behavior of adults and improve their general communication skills. This way, Middles are less likely to keep to themselves and more comfortable with expressing themselves.  

Successful middles understand the key difference between being antisocial and being introverted. The former is unhealthy and self-limiting. They understand that people with limited social connections are presented with fewer opportunities in life. On the other hand, introversion is a normal personality trait. There have been many introverts who have acquired great influence and success. 

Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are two prime examples of wildly successful introverts- and they’re middle children too. Middles can become the change they wish to see in society – and it all begins with trusting themselves in opening the doors and building bridges to the right people.

Middle Child Mistruth: Attention-Seeking

It is believed that the unfulfilling experiences of middle children may lead to attention-seeking behavior. As such, some critics expect neglected Middles to crave attention regardless of the cost. 

Parents and guardians can avoid such behavior by providing their children with the attention (as much as possible) that they desire. The process starts off with basic needs such as food and safety, before advancing to wants such as toys and spending quality family time. These social needs are vital in shaping the personality of a person, developing them into empathetic and helpful individuals.   

Caregivers must have the patience to answer their child’s questions such as “why do lightning bugs light?”, tuck them into bed, be there for them when they’re unwell, and so on. Fulfilling these prerequisites will help your child grow up into a happier adult without emotional baggage.

Strong Middles are always prepared to receive attention where it’s due. They also respect the accomplishments and opinions of others. Growing up with a family of siblings has opened their minds to the beautiful world of discussion and collaboration. They understand that the only way forward is through interdependence, where every person plays their role dutifully while offering the next person their turn to shine. 

Middle Child Mistruth: They Antagonize Siblings

Middles are erroneously known to have foul relationships with their siblings. It is either they are at loggerheads, or at each other’s throats while the adults aren’t looking. As a result, middles end up being typecast as rabble rousers in the family. Under this unpopular belief, Middles might find themselves rebellious and frustrated. 

This is most likely untrue, as attested by many famous examples of Middles who expressed nothing but the deepest love and respect for their siblings. These include actress Anne Hathaway, who gave up her faith in support of her brother’s coming out, George Washington, who admired his brother, who introduced him to the upper class that resulted in his eventual rise to prominence as a founding father, and the list goes on. 

Parents and guardians play a vital role in raising amicable and cooperative children. The most important thing is to never play favorites at home. Children should be given equal attention, care, and discipline (when required). 

Successful Middles do not feel that their siblings are out to get them. In fact, they understand that blood is thicker than water, viewing their siblings as beacons of hope and motivation while they offer the same in return. Middles might feel blessed that they have the privilege to share their achievements and happiness with their siblings, who are their closest friends and strongest allies. 

Overcoming Middle Child Syndrome with Positivity

Middles are destined to overcome middle child syndrome with the right amount of support and appreciation from caregivers, and establishing strong faith in themselves. When it comes down to being the middle child, or life in general, it might be considered a glass half-empty or half-full situation. This is commonly termed as the Rubin’s Vase illusion. Individuals have the freedom of choosing to visualize a beautiful vase or a pair of ominous faces locked in a staredown.

It is necessary for caregivers to identify and respond to the slightest hints of a distressed middle child. These could be as subtle as sudden withdrawals from familial situations and other changes in behavior such as the increased frequencies of temper tantrums toward siblings. 

A child undergoes various stages of development with its respective challenges, this is regardless of their birth order. Caregivers must be there to offer support and validation as much as they can to help establish the confidence of their child. With proper care, concern, and guidance, Middles are destined for great things. 

Middle Child Syndrome is ultimately an antiquated belief that is easily overcome. If anyone requires irrefutable proof, they need only to marvel at what Middle children have accomplished in history,  and how they proved to be unstoppable forces by any stretch of the imagination.

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