Birth order and its effects on child number ‘2’

Translated by Suhail AlHamady

Azal Al Thawr – a mother of two, Certified Postive Discipline Trainer Candidate (PDTC), Encouragement consultant at Lynn Lott and the CEO of Little Steps Foundation – sheds the light on the challenges that parents face while bringing up their middle child. She answers questions and provides tips exclusive for the Elixir and its readers.

The first theory of personal development was originated by Alfred Adler, the scientist who established the field of Individual Psychology*. His theory was based on the assumption that personal attitudes, behaviors, and traits are developed in the early stages of a person’s life. Thus giving us the indication that your birth order can have a significant impact on the person you become.

Positive Discipline, which was established on the works of Alfred, believes that every child is born with a need for ‘belonging’. They need to feel important and unique within the confinement of their own family.

The second child is born struggling, he has been preceded with a an older sibling, who is more clever and has a  range of skills. He is special, well-adjusted and behaves correctly. Soon after, there is the third child. He is pampered, loved and the center of attention. What happens to the middle child? The middle child here feels aggrieved and  trapped between the love that his family is bestowing on his younger sibling, and the many advantages and power his older sibling has been granted.

Our middle child now finds himself in a position where he needs to put more effort to get equal attention from his family. He starts to look for ways that makes him distinct from his other two siblings. If the oldest sibling; for instance, has academic intelligence, the middle child abandons that category and seek other abilities or traits that may help him feel important and recognized. He may decide to be more sociable and energized or just choose to be quiet, shy, and introverted.

Is the character of the middle born child affected by his position between his siblings?

A child’s character is formed by a number of factors such as genes, the surrounding environment, the subconscious decisions a child makes resulting from the experiences he went through in his early childhood . The child could make several decisions concerning himself, others, and the world around him, and when he finds himself deprived of the attention and care that both his siblings are getting he starts confronting negative feelings of emptiness, void, jealousy, and insufficiency. Furthermore, the child may struggle with underestimation, extreme introversion, and a craving for competition with his siblings to secure a place in the hierarchical order of the family.  This eventually makes him a victim of the “Middle Child Syndrome”; a psychological condition that overwhelms the middle child with a lot of negative emotions.

It is not necessarily true, however; that all middle children suffer such circumstances. The syndrome is generally connected to several factors like parenting, dealing with children, and providing unbiased love. In addition, the sex of the child and the age difference between the siblings can have its impact as well.

What are the traits of a middle born child?

It is fairly difficult to assign specific characteristics to a middle child, but there are some common ones such as:

  1. Being the most cooperative and flexible.
  2. Competitive as a result of jealousy.
  3. Very sociable and very appreciative of his friends, generated by his need to compensate for the lack of attention in his family.
  4. Outstanding negotiator.
  5. Independent , adaptable  and daring.
  6. Rebellious, he is not concerned with rules and does not bother with living up to adult’s expectations.
  7. Imperfectionist.
  8. A social reformer.
  9. Open to new ideas and experiences.
  10. Naturally, interested in fairness and justice causes

So how can parents best deal with their middle child?

  1. Express your love and admiration constantly.
  2. Make him feel appreciated and valued by assigning to him some tasks and responsibilities. Also, make sure to make room for their consultations and advise.
  3. Build a solid connection between you and your middle child. Spend some quality time with him in order to answer to the attention they crave.
  4. Encourage your child by applauding ,cheering, and focusing on his strong qualities.
  5. Teach your child to stand out for his opinions and to always express them without holding back.
  6. Hold family meetings to enhance feelings of belonging and importance . Schedule one day in the week to have a family meeting in which a discussion is held to address all the bullets of the meeting agenda so that your child feels his voice is being heard and that his problems are handled seriously.
  7. Respect your child. Every born child has the right to be dealt with respectively and to be given the freedom to express his feelings without being ridiculed .
  8. Stop comparing your middle child to his older and younger siblings, your comparison might either push them to strive for perfection, the thing that will leave him in a constant state of tension and competition and fear of committing mistakes or leaves him highly frustrated.
  9. Take a look at the positive parenthood methods and techniques that will enhance your child’s sense of belonging and importance.
  10. It is very crucial to focus on our child’s  strengths and respect their differences to allow their fruitful growth. We must raise our awareness in terms of child parenthood topics. We all wish to see our children assertive ,ambitious, outgoing, proactive and responsible adults, yet we sometimes tend to inhibit the process by our lack of knowledge in handling different age stages and other parenting struggles.

*Individual psychology is the psychological method or science founded by the Viennese psychiatrist Alfred Adler.

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