The Middle Child Syndrome

three siblings

According to these studies, middle children tend to be more outgoing and flexible than their older and younger siblings. One theory about this is that a middle child learns early on that they need to be vocal in order to be heard among their other siblings, as well as being flexible, as they are often carted around to older siblings’ activities and on hold for a younger child’s needs.

Middle children tend to be “rebels,” more so than their other siblings. A good example of this rebel personality is Charles Darwin, who was a middle child.

The Exceptions
There are a few exceptions to the effect of being a middle child. The first exception is gender. If your middle child is a different gender than the older and younger siblings, the “Middle Child Syndrome” does not typically affect them at all. The reasoning behind this is that when children are of a different gender, they are treated almost like a firstborn, because they have many different characteristics and activities, which will be “firsts” for a family (for example, the first dance recital). Another factor making an exception to the “Middle Child Syndrome” is if the middle child has any type of disability.

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How to Counteract the “Middle Child Syndrome”
While you may not be able to totally negate the effect of the “Middle Child Syndrome,” you can take certain measures to try and help your middle child feel like an important member of your family. You should have special date nights with each of your children, but this may be especially important for your middle child. When having family discussions, you should also make a special effort to listen to and include your middle child’s opinion. Finally, make sure each of your children know how special and unique they are. Instilling a good self-worth can serve them well as they enter adulthood.


What do you think?

The Middle Child Syndrome

Tell us what you think!


  1. ariawna says:

    I’m a 12 year old girl with a older sister who is 14 and has disabilities and a younger brother who is 4 and the baby of the family I see where this is coming from a lot of days my siblings get “special” treatment and i usually don’t and since I’m a middle child I’m usually more independent than my other sibling,

  2. I’m a 14 year old girl who has a shitty older brother and a fucking younger brother. My fucking older brother seems like he controls the fucking universe! And my younger brother is only one year difference he’s fucking 13! And he gets treated the exact same as my not one thing is different. He has the same amount of fucking pocket money, he gets the same amount of quality time with fucking mum and dad. And tons more. Whereas my shitty older brother gets longer quality time and more pocket money. Etc. I hate this shitty family and wish I could fucking live with some other shitty people! They’re all fucking morons

    • Marion says:

      I signed up b/c of yr post, great you are speaking abt it, thanks. It’s good for you too. Even though yr ages will remain the same, positions or family dynamics can change (i.e. oldest may become the middle child, youngest may become oldest) This will happen over years. You can also create yr own family from great friends who understand! I am estranged (ignore them completely) from my sisters and now live in another state. 3 years difference for younger sister to me and 7 years difference to older.
      Parents expected younger sister to do well as far as $s go, she was given so much eventually she didn’t understand money. When it comes to “Wills” ppl change too, I didn’t believe this but it is true! Younger sister ripped off $250k without caring abt others. That was enough for me, she is a waste of space. Also she is the principal of a well known private school, if parents knew what she was like they would change schools so their kids wouldn’t be influenced by her, it’s all a charade. She has become a very angry person. Older sister also lives in a different state but thinks nothing of $s stolen. Her choice. She also favored younger sister and ignored me.
      I was extremely sick as a kid but not told what this rare condition was from dr father. I was always ignored, no affection from parents at all. Could write pages abt this and yes it hurts but I am really pleased for you that you are shitty. It gets better as you get older and make yr own choices. Choose a kind, smart partner later, if you can. They will be yr best friend:-). Now we have enough $s to “buy” my sisters! Guess what?!! Neither are in our Will and we have conditions attached so we don’t expect challenges. Younger sister & her kids have treated me badly. She will struggle on a pension. Older sister will be OK, I don’t care really. We have no kids, this was not our choice but now I am happy abt this.
      The point is you can make it by yourself if you want to. It’s to do with how you “think” and you will “let it go”. Love and kind wishes to you xxxooo

  3. Haydee says:

    This is so true….as a result of this I just pushed myself to do more. I didn’t want recognition I just wanted to prove to myself that I am just as special. I am successful because of it. First child to buy a home and My family life is very stable.I have three children… A girl (21) a boy (19) and my new addition (1) although there is a middle child they were not raised all together. I wasn’t planning on the third and thank God it didn’t happen earlier because I know how painful being left out can be.

  4. susan says:

    what about age difference from the middle child to the youngest? My children are 11 and 10 and I am now expecting my third. That’ll be an 11 year age difference!

  5. miguel says:

    I like what you said I do feel left out I just think is better for me to hang out with friend who are the same feel like I can’t get my word them but the good part is I know how to make myself wealthy but feel like I do everything for my brother I’m till working on it…

  6. Karlee says:

    Everything they say about the ever accursed “middle child” is true. I am OCD and Dyslexic. My parents don’t realize this. They make plans, then cancel for my little brother’s haircut, or karate class. Young parents always say “That will never happen in my family,” but the fact is, you can’t stop it. It just happens. It doesn’t matter who your parents are, you always feel like you live in your older or younger sibling’s shadow. There’s nothing you can do to get out of it, because they’ll always be better than you, especially in your parents eyes. The “Middle Child Syndrome” is inevitable.

  7. mommy nhoj says:

    I hope not to deal with this in my own family. If ever we do have 3 children in the future, we will strive hard not to let this happen or to intervene as early as possible

  8. Amber says:

    Don’t underestimate the middle child. Both my husband and I are middle children. And yeah we did suffer from this syndrome, but as a result, we’ve been pretty successful. I dove into becoming an over achiever to earn attention with my family. This ended up becoming a blessing because now I lead a pretty successful life. I’ve done so much more than my siblings and have taken more risks that they just wouldn’t do. My sister was very outspoken and loud, so one down for me is that I have a hard time speaking up and feeling like my opinion matters (while my younger sister was a big cry baby) this is an issue that still affects me today, but honestly everyone has some kind of issue as an adult.

  9. LIZ says:

    i never wanted 3 kids, because of this, two is fine for me

  10. Mya says:

    I am a middle child well, really i am 12. Even though i have a younger brother and older brother, i tend to always feel left out… Its too the point were i no loner speak my mind… or speak much at all… What should i do?

  11. Vanessa says:

    I didn’t see myself having three I only wanted two, the date night suggestion is definitely the best solution because regardless if you have three kids or not and just have two they still want to have that individual attention

  12. I was actually the middle child. I really do not want to have an odd number of kids.

  13. Ben says:

    Haha, I actually posted a comedy sketch about being the Middle Child. If you fancy a giggle check it out –

  14. PamelaPlus3 says:

    Good Info! thanks!!

  15. tammy says:

    ohhh thanks for all these info!!

  16. ErinF says:

    Ooh, I like the idea of having "date nights" with each child individually so they each receive personal attention as individuals. A former coworker of mine was also the middle of three siblings, and said that she’ll never have three kids because of the way she felt growing up. If I do end up having three, I’ll definitely keep the last paragraph of this article in mind.

  17. michelle says:

    As the middle child and the only girl, I can certainly attest to most of this article. Although, I certainly don’t feel like I got any specialties for being a girl. I was rather tomboyish and played sports rather than had dance recitals.
    But due to being a middle child, I’m only having 2 children. I would never want to have one of my children feel the way I felt growing up and I feel that 4 kids is just too many for me to handle.

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