The middle childhood syndrome

Filed under: Just For Moms, Just For Dads, Activities: Babies, Siblings, Development/Milestones: Babies

Having three children tips the scales in a far different direction than just two kids or an only child. We have three in our family. They are not back-to-back, rather they are currently 13, 9 and almost 2 years-old. Ever day is a challenge and an adventure. Sometimes I fear them and other times I can't wait for them all to be home and together at once. As they get older I can see how their birth order affects them, an aspect of family relations I find fascinating. Apparently I am not alone in my intrigue in the area, Stacy DeBroff of momcentral.com, has some interesting points about the middle child syndrome. Below are a few of them:

  1. Personalities. Each child has a distinct personality that he/she adds to the family mixture. It is traditionally the case that the eldest child has the strongest personality of the trio. They often grow into confident and successful adults. The anticipation of the first born's arrival is always the biggest, the one on one time of baby with parents is something that the later two kids do not get to experience.
    The middle child often has to struggle to get some individual time parents once the baby arrives, and comes to expect that the oldest sibling will receive more attention for all the firsts: first bike ride, first time to school, etc. The baby is often more affectionate and more mature than the middle child. The baby basks in the spotlight of the parental attention. When compared to the older two siblings the baby is often less of an impact, less prone to fighting, easier to handle (at least until the terrible two's kick in).
  2. Favoritism. Although few parents are willing to address this topic, it is all too real and fairly inevitable. When faced with three kids, parents are attracted and repulsed by qualities in each child. This can cause guilt in parents and influence their parenting styles. The children pick up on this and use it to their advantage.
  3. Sibling rivalry. This is an aspect of siblings that is simply unavoidable. It is best for parents to stay out of it and never compare one child to another. Sibling rivalry will be an issue in any family that has more than one child, it is human nature.
It seems there is no way to completely avoid the middle childhood syndrome. But perhaps it isn't the worst place to be. I know a number of middle children who are fabouls, strong and very successful individuals.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.