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Being a middle child

Being a middle child

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Birth theories present a common-sense background for personality differences between children in the same family. There are lots of other factors that also impact such as health and wealth of parents, spacing between children and amount of support that family receives. But sometimes just looking at the placement of each child can reveal an interesting and telling story.


Like all different placements in a family, middle children come with their own stereotypes. ‘Middle child syndrome’ carries the myths of not belonging, not feeling special, being neglected, resentful and so on. However, it is actually very common for middle children to be great social beings; able to form friendships and relationships easily, great team players with strong traits of co-operation and trust. Apparently 52% of American presidents have been middle children! Of course your view on American presidents will influence what you think about that statistic!

The forgotten middle one

It’s often how you read information on things that influences your perception. Whilst one person may see middle children ‘being neglected by their parents’ as a weakness, others will see these children as having increased independence, the ability to think outside of the box and stronger skills of empathy. These are great transferable skills for them as employees, partners and parents.

Eldest = ambition?

People often associate the eldest child as being the one with all the ambition. But if you look closer, you can see that middle children have huge amounts of ambition but they express this through values and principles such as justice, peace and equality.

Big social causes are often filled with middle children; because they are not used to getting their own way, they can become excellent negotiators and develop quite savvy skills in areas of compromising for the best overall results. They are used to having to wait around so they can become very patient.

Chilled out

Being a middle childMiddle children learn from the experience of their older siblings and often don’t have to make the same torturous mistakes. In a similar vein, parents are often more chilled out by the time they get to their second or third and if you’re not the youngest you don’t get the thing of being babied and held back!

Challenges for middle children

There are challenges to being a middle child. They often have to work harder to overcome people’s prejudices and may have lower self-esteem because they may have received less attention from carers, but on the flip side, this often translates into smaller ego’s! Middle kids often dislike conflict so they avoid rocking the boat and this may result in them not being fully honest about their opinions, having a tendency to go with the flo. Again, this can be re-framed as a strength some of the time.

Social life

As a parent of a middle child try to support their social life. Middle children have a tendency to create a ‘chosen’ family and their friendships are very important to them. Try to avoid being threatened by these alternative and strong bonds outside of the family. Take what they say seriously, they rarely cry wolf as they become aware early on that attention is limited and so they maximise what is available.

Let yourself off the hook about having to give fairly between your children. All of them are learning particular lessons because of their birth position. It doesn’t have to be seen as a handicap that you have to help them get over. Instead re-frame it into the advantages and opportunities that it presents and help them take advantage of their position.





About Jenny Smith

About Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith is a freelance writer and facilitator specialising in mental health, well-being and ecotherapy. She writes for National Mind and The Working Parent and facilitates training in the Work that Reconnects and Ecotherapy. She is inspired by nature, gardening, love and non-duality teachings

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