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Raising Children Topics..

You are here : home > Raising Children > Relation between Siblings > Is there Something Called the Middle Child Syndrome?

Is there Something Called the Middle Child Syndrome?

Is there Something Called the Middle Child Syndrome?

Middle children can both have some advantages and disadvantages. They are good mediators and negotiators as they are middle children. Sometimes these middle children feel neglected and find themselves to be bereft of parental attention. Read on.


Nilima Mehta speaks about being the older sister. "I think it's a real pain being an older sister. My sister is five years younger than I am and she gets away with murder. My parents are always pulling me up saying that I should be setting an example to my younger sister. But there are some advantages. I have someone that I can bully and I am allowed to do many things that my sister can't only because I'm older."

Does the order of birth play any significant role in the development of children?  Read on and you will discover that it plays a significant role in the children's overall personality. It also makes a difference in the way they are treated by their parents and siblings and also influences their experience and perception of the world around them. 

The Perfect Older Sibling

Parents want their first child to be perfect, to be the best. Thus, older siblings tend to be more ambitious as they often bear the burden of their parent's expectations and dreams. Older siblings wield greater power over their siblings because they are bigger, stronger and more knowledgeable just by dint of being older. However, they are more likely to be blamed and reprimanded for getting into mischief as parents expect them to exercise more control and be more responsible. Older siblings tend to swing between being nasty to their siblings and feeling protective about them. Older brothers and sisters often view younger siblings as a source of embarrassment. 

Parents should realize that just because a child is older, it does not mean that he or she has ceased to be a child. They should continue to treat their children accordingly and not expect responsible adult behaviour from children who are just a few years older than their younger siblings. Parents should show their appreciation for anything that an older child does for his or her younger sibling and not treat it as a matter of course. They should let the older siblings know that they are aware that the younger children can also be tiresome and mischief-makers. Parents should instruct younger siblings to give the older ones some space, especially when they have friends over.

Younger Siblings get away with Murder!

Younger siblings can use the fact that they are younger to their advantage. For instance, they can enlist the help of their parents when quarreling with their older siblings. By the time the younger siblings are born parents are that much more experienced. They are more relaxed, less likely to be overprotective and more tolerant. 

However, younger siblings can get overawed by their older siblings' apparent prowess and achievement and may despair of ever achieving their level of excellence. They may also fall into the habit of being dependent and having things done for them, resulting in their being less independent and confident. Parents can help by involving younger children in decisions like which video to watch or what pizza to order. They should also be given responsibilities according to their capabilities. For instance, if the older child is setting the table, the younger one should be given the job of folding the napkins. This will allow the younger child to feel more responsible.

Younger children also often complain of being bullied. Rishi Gupta is the youngest of three siblings. He says, "When I was small I was fed up of hearing the words "you're too small to understand." My older brother and sister were always kicking me out of the room and leaving me out of their games."

But it is a different situation when it comes to his relationship with adults in the family. The younger child learns how to "steal" attention from others and make a place for himself in the family.  He endears himself to others by playing on the right buttons (often complaining against his siblings) and winning favours from his parents. Often, it is the younger child that gets more importance than the older one, and since he is younger, he soon becomes the pet of the family, and often gets away with murder! Parents, beware!

Is there such a thing called - "The Middle Child Syndrome"?

Middle children share the advantages of both the older siblings as well as the younger ones. They often become good mediators and negotiators. Gautam Sengupta is the middle child. He says, "I really enjoyed being the middle sibling. I wasn't the oldest, so I didn't have to live up to any expectations. I wasn't the youngest, so I wasn't bullied as much. I think I had the best of both worlds." 

Meenakshi has a different story to tell.  She is the middle child, with an older sister and a younger brother.  "My older sister gets all the attention because not only is she older but she is also more beautiful.  My brother gets a lot of attention, of course because he is the the heir apparent to my father's business.  I resent my parents for putting me in such a situation where I don't count in the family and where I am just taken for granted!" 

Sadhna echoes similar sentiments.  "Parents need to realize that they should treat me like an adult, and not keep babying me around.  They treat my older sister as a grown up for things they should not.  Although she is only 2 years older than me, she is given the importance and respect of being at least 5 years older than me."

Middle children often feel that they are neither here nor there. In their view, the roles of the older and younger siblings are more clearly defined. They may also feel cheated of parental attention that is given to the first-born achiever and the dependent youngest child. Some psychologists have given this condition a name - they call it "the middle-child syndrome".

Parents need to go out of their way to ensure that the middle child does not feel neglected. They should convey to the child that his thoughts and opinions are as important as those of his other siblings. They should also point out the advantages of being a middle child, telling him that he can understand his siblings best as he is both an older child and a younger one. 

Whenever parents are told about this, they are truly surprised that there is such a thing like the middle-child syndrome. Parents may think they have done the best for all their kids, but isn't it time they asked their middle child his/her views?

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your prupose in this world
hello there everyone,this is all new to me,but indeed very important because i have a sister whose behaviour can become very agressive at times, and not very pleasent.
cousin of a middle child
tell her she's a drama queen. all of them are.
Patty anderson
Patty anderson.10 years ago
my sister are always taking advntage og my kindness. i let them borrow money and they never give it back. then they always hit time i was riding my bike and they pushed me over and i broke my arm in 2 places. i,m the second to the younest and i'm small for my age.there so mean.
brooke.10 years ago
okay i'm a middle child and i dont care what all these people say how middle children should get over it! its hard bein the middle one! i have an older sister thats 16 and a yonger brother thats 12 and i'm 14. my sister is a great athlete who made varsity bball freshman year and my brother is just the baby and can yell at me and my parents assume i've done something wronge. i don't like feeling like this my older sister is pretty which people say i am too but shes very skiny and i'm not as thin as her, i don't like it one bit! but the thing we all have in common is that we don't like our lives and how it affects us and our personalities. but if there wern't middle children people wouldn't be as independent. were so much more caring and know how to take care of ourselves which will come in handy. so even tho it sucks to be a middle child stick with it, u can't control other people or anything like that all u can control is ur attitude and how u act and respond. hopefully if u do it responsibly than it will pay off! all i have to say is stick in there! u'll survive!
/.10 years ago
youngest child syndrome....i found a cure.... i am the youngest in a family of 8.i'm now 40 and recently told my older siblings (aged 45 to 54)at a family gathering while they were teasing me, that one day, they'll be in a nursing home while i'm still young and able and it'll be my turn to bully them. you should've seen the look on their face.
Lindzay.10 years ago
i deffinately find it incredibly hard being the middle child. im always too old for this or alwyas too young for that. but the other sister isn't. i get no attention, im fine with that but i am sick of always being compared to the other sisters. just becaus i dont have the intellegence the older one has or the beauty the younger one has, i am constantly being compared. im just different, and being the middle, i am alywas too young or too old to do anything the other one is doing.
Mike.10 years ago
hmmm... i am 26 yrs. old and i have found that some of my behavior lately has been botherring me. i cant find what i want to do, i cant find a sense of self to lean on and i cant see myself down the road. i found some traits of the middle child and found i possess and exhibite all of them. i feel that i dont fit in a lot its weird. but i can also gell to many different people and situations. i am a loner sorta kinds. i would just like someone to respond to if they feel like chattin about it, cause i do!!!!!
Sarah.10 years ago
i am the middle child of 3, i'm 14, i have an older sister who is 18 and a younger brother who is 12. i absolutly hate being the middle child and totally believe in the "middle- child syndrome" i am ignored by my parents except when i'm in trouble. i am always blamed for anything that happens between me and my sis and bro. me and my brother barely talk to eachother at all, sometimes i think he really hates me. i have never been able to outshine my sister b/c she is perfect. my pparents are always comparing me to her and telling me i can do better. my sister and brother have such a tight relationship, that sometimes i feel like i'm not even apart of the family. i am always the outcast and expected to do everything. sometimes i wish my parents wouldn't have had my brother b/c then i would have been the baby of the family, and i wouldn't have to be in hell i call my life. being the middle child is the worst, and you'll never understand what it feels like unless you are one.
Maybe this can help: Mother of 4
hi, i am a mother of 4 children. 2 boys ages 10 & 5 & 2 girls ages 8 & 2. we try very hard to be good parents to our children & raise them to be respectable adults. i know it seems hard to be a kid sometimes, especially a 'middle child' when you have other brothers or sisters always around & you seem to be the one getting in all the trouble. but it really isn't like that. you have to think of the good things about having a family that loves you & they do. even if it seems like they don't. they do! having a big family of 5, 6 or more can be difficult for both children & parents. the stresses of daily life get to everyone & everyone handles it differently, in their own way, how you choose is up to you. in a good solid family, those, what seemed like terrible times of fighting w/your brothers/sisters will pay off one day & in a good way! there is nothing like a family!!! i am very close to all my brother & sisters now. and they are great mom's & dad's to their kids. all you can do is be yourself, be happy in being the 2nd child. learn to deal with situations, because life does give alot of them, just be sure they are good decisions. peace, love & happiness to you!
Maria G
Maria G.10 years ago
to the mother from australia:

thankyou everyone. it's great to read that there are other 'middles' out there who feel the same.

i'm sick of being told by my family to 'get over it' how can you move forward if your family constantly ignores you or don't know where you belong. and do we have to have a position in the family to feel belonged? what's the definition of a family? i don't think it's position or birth right?

to the mother from australia:
i know that in the big picture of life that this is not life threatening stuff, but i've been experience this type of anger towards my parents all my life - (i'm 41) - because i'm sick of only getting the 'left overs' - if there's any after my sisters are finished.
you say that your middle child is exhibiting anger behavour towards you, it is probably because he feels left out and that he's not being treated (emotionally) equal compared to his siblings. i too am (and still) exhibitiing anger toward my parents the same way your son is. i don't care what parents say, the middle child is not treated the same as the other sibbling - you're not here or there. all i know is that children (and later as adults) will react according to the way they've been emotionaly treated. for eg - during my teenage years i was constantly told that the oldest 'naturally' got new clothes etc - but i had to have all the hand me downs - even from my younger sister (they were both fatter than me) both my sisters received some financial help from my parents when they got married and when it came to my turn to get married i was told "there's no money left" so it's diffult to believe that "all parents treat their children the same" i feel that what ever i do i'm never good enough and all my sisters have to do is say "i'm the oldest/youngest" and they receive what ever they want. so to answer your query on how to help your middle son - it's simple - treat him the same as the other two. for eg - my mother used to spend 'quality time' with each of my older and younger sister but never me. now that everyone have moved out, my parents can't understand why they can't talk to me - or why i don't call them at times like my sisters. well, maybe if they treated me like part of the family while i was growing up i might feel part of the family- but i don't.

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