What is the Middle Child Syndrome? (+9 Characteristic traits)

The current blogpost will be describing what Middle Child Syndrome is. We will also be listing out the different characteristic traits that middle children exhibit. Finally, we will also be discussing some tips that parents can use to deal with their middle children.

What is the Middle Child Syndrome?

The Middle Child Syndrome is a theory that children who are born in the middle of the birth order are often neglected and therefore may have certain shared personality or developmental features.

This theory was originally put forth by Alfred Adler who pointed out the Middle Child Syndrome as one of the main reasons for an inferiority complex. He also mentioned that this particular birth order may lead to relationship issues and problem-solving skills later.

While this is not a strictly proven theory, many experts still refer to the birth order for being a main reason for psychological and psycho-social issues which people may exhibit. There are even a set of features that middle children are predicted to exhibit as a syndrome.

Characteristics of middle children

According to the Middle Child theory, children who are born in the middle of the birth order exhibit certain characteristics collectively known as the Middle Child Syndrome. The main characteristics which are theorized to be exhibited by middle children are:

Middle children are even-tempered

The most common theory about middle children is that they are even-tempered in nature. This is because they are stuck in the middle between the older sibling and the younger sibling and this requires them to be mild-mannered to get along with everybody else.

They might be great negotiators

Another characteristic trait of middle children is that they tend to be great at negotiating since they need this skill to be able to get their way in the family. Many times, this skill grows well into their adulthood and can help them in later phases of life.

They may have an inferiority complex

While middle children may have tons of positive qualities, they often never realize this until too late since they mostly have an inferiority complex. This is because they are easily overshadowed by the confident older sibling and the favorite younger sibling.

They are very competitive in nature

Another characteristic trait of middle children is that they can be pretty competitive. While it may not show outside, this can be easily seen in their thought processes. This is mainly because of their need to be recognized by the caregivers at home.

They can become rebellious

Middle children are often the first to show signs of rebellion at home, mainly in terms of religion and spirituality. This is usually a form of attention-seeking, but can also be to set apart a unique identity for them.

They might not be close to their family

When compared to the older child and the younger child, the middle child may not be as close to the family or the parents. They are theorized to feel left out and never feel like they are an integral part of the family and may seek to move away as soon as possible.

They are more open-minded

Their sticky position in the family can make middle children a lot more open-minded to new situations and new people outside the family. This can be a huge plus for them since it can expose them to new opportunities which the other siblings may not be okay with.

They have lots of friends

Since they feel left out at home, middle children may make up for this by making lots of new friends outside the family. While inside the house they may be loners, in the outside world, middle children are often seen to be surrounded by lots of company.

They have realistic aims and goals

Compared to the other children, middle children are often the first to grasp reality and don’t like to live in fantasies. And as a result, they are often the first to take a stable job and settle down in a place with permanency in mind.

How to deal with Middle Child Syndrome?

If you are a parent or a caregiver who is dealing with a middle child who is exhibiting traits of the Middle Child Syndrome, here are some tips and strategies that you can use to make them feel like they are an integral part of the family.

Spend time with them alone

The best way to deal with middle children in a constructive manner is to simply spend more time with them alone. Often, the oldest child and the youngest child take the attention of the parents while the middle child is ignored.

In spending more time with the middle child alone, the parent will also find that they are able to identify the unique strengths and attributes of the child as an individual. It will also help the middle child feel like they have a unique bond with the parent.

Help them develop their uniqueness

Another important thing to do when it comes to middle children is to encourage and develop their uniqueness. Among the other children of the family, the special talents and abilities of the middle child often goes unnoticed or diluted and this can lead them to feel ignored even more.

Openly show their position in the family

You can also openly display pictures and tokens of middle children in the family room so that they know that they are considered special. More often than not, most parents only display photos of their older and younger children which can be damaging for middle children.

This not only applies to photos and pictures, but even other tokens like trophies and certificates of achievement. You can put up drawings or other pieces of art which your middle child has made, in common areas of your home.

Help them make friends in the family

While middle children are often very popular outside the family and may have tons of friends, inside the family they might be loners. As a parent, you can help the middle child make more friends in the family, with cousins and such, improving their standing in the household.

Buy them new stuff

Most parents are guilty of offering hand-me-downs to middle children. While this is witty when it comes to budgeting, middle children may often feel that they are not important due to this. Whenever you can, buy your middle child brand new things.

Take their opinion in decisions

Older children and younger children often take the spotlight in voicing out their opinions when it comes to family decisions, leaving the middle child’s voice drowned out. Make sure that you are taking the opinion of the middle child when you are making a decision.

Explain the reasons for rules

In the case of rules and punishments, most children often find that their parents can be very unfair. This is even truer for middle children who already feel ignored. If you are making a rule or giving out a punishment, make sure that you are taking the time to explain the reason clearly.

Celebrate their successes

When your middle child achieves something, even if it is something small, make sure that you are celebrating it. Middle children are known for hiding their achievements from parents as they are used to feeling overshadowed.

You can also involve the other children in recognizing and celebrating the achievements of the middle child, so that they too know how important the middle child is in the family. This can tremendously boost their self-esteem along with their self-confidence.


The current blogpost has described what Middle Child Syndrome is. We have also listed out the different characteristic traits that middle children exhibit. Finally, we have discussed some tips that parents can use to deal with their middle children.

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