Middle Child Syndrome

middle child syndrome

What is a Middle Child?




A middle child is someone who is born in between two or more siblings. Being born in the middle, as you’ll soon find out is not that simple. The middle child, unlike the eldest or youngest child, does not get much attention. Middle children are also usually considered outcasts in their families and often develop a condition called Middle Child Syndrome.

What is Middle Child Syndrome?

Middle child syndrome is a condition in which children born in the middle experience feelings of emptiness, inadequacy and jealousy. It is also characterized by low self-esteem and extreme introversion, sometimes even leading to psychotic behavior.

The middle child, unlike the eldest child and the youngest child, is not given much attention. They have to go the extra mile just to get some of it. Middle children tend to be achievers because they need awards to be recognized by their parents. Sadly, this also goes the other way around, they can be very troublesome and determined to get noticed even if it means getting scolded at or punished.

Because they lack emotional support and guidance from their parents, they will always have a sense of low self-esteem. These feelings of emptiness and loneliness make them not very friendly and maybe even weird to other people. Most likely, these negative feelings will also stop them from pursuing what they want.

Other observable traits of middle children are insecurity and jealousy. Being raised in an environment where they have to compete for attention, it’s natural for them to have feelings of insecurity and jealousy of others. Seeing others easily get attention while they continue to strive for attention, these feelings of resentment towards others will continue to build up. All these repressed feelings of being unloved, unwanted or even hated can trigger an extreme case of middle child syndrome where they show psychotic behavior.

Possible Causes of Middle Child Syndrome

After discussing the common traits of people with middle child syndrome, we can find two main causes, identity crisis and lack of emotional support.

Identity crisis is very common to us all, and it’s something that we all experience at some point in our lives. Wanting to be different from everyone else is very normal and there’s not much we can do about it. The other cause is lack of support. Because the eldest and youngest are the common favorites, the middle child is not given any support or attention. This unloved feeling makes them less confident and envious of others, often leading to even more problems such as drug abuse.

Is there a Solution?

Some say that middle children should be given the love and attention that they should have had when they were young, but I believe this will only make them more dependent on their parent’s approval.

There are also cases where middle children tend to separate from their family at a relatively early age to have families of their own. While having a new family means getting another chance, I do not think this is the best solution because escaping the past will not really resolve any childhood issues and these issues may haunt them for the rest of their lives.

The main cause of middle child syndrome is lack of emotional support, which is the responsibility of the parents. So logically, I would have to say that good and responsible parenting is the real and outright solution for middle child syndrome. While this may sound more like prevention rather than treatment, I think that it’s never too late for good and responsible parenting.

But this is just my opinion, what do you think? Comments are very much appreciated.

P.S. I’m a middle child in case you’re wondering. 🙂

Feel free to join the discussion. We’d love to hear from you!

941 thoughts on “Middle Child Syndrome

  1. I am the middle daughter of 3 and I can truly relate to every word. I got married at the age of 20 where I was living in a joint family with my husband his 2 brothers and parents for 10 years, they all really loved me and appreciated me. I am still constantly trying to fight for my fathers love and approval but everything I do is never good enough, he never looks at me or treats me the same as my sisters. He is at their beck and call whenever they need him but my car battery went dead the other day and he was so angry and horrible to me that I had disturbed his day when he came with the jump leads. I am divorced now with 2 children, bought my own house and never asked for my fathers help with this. He truly treats me like the runt of the litter and I feel like I need to keep trying, one day he will say, im proud of you.

  2. I’m the middle of 3 boys; 22 months from the oldest and 10 years 9 months from the baby. I went from being the baby to the middle child right at the start of my teen years. I have expierenced everything on this site and so much more. For nearly 7 years I lived in HELL. To top it off I had a step-parent. I have made by far greater achievements that the other 2 combined but in the eyes of my parents it wasn’t enough. It will never be enough and I have to live with this pain the rest of my life. I have raised my own family and made a conscious effort to shield my kids from that kind of torment. The pain never goes away; I just learned to be cold around my family. I have always felt like an out cast; a throw away child. When I learned that my mother tried to abort me; I felt justified in cutting them out of my life all together.

  3. I am a middle child that was lucky enough to be between 2 boys… the older boy being 8 years older than me and the younger boy being 2 years under me. Me being the only girl, you would think that I wouldn’t have to have had to work so hard. Not true…
    The older boy was PERFECT, he was the straight A student excelling in everything form math to how he washed the dishes… the baby, well he was cute and the baby, so everyone loved him.
    Then there was me, short, round, and quiet. I didn’t want to make any noise because I didn’t want to get into any trouble with anyone!
    My earlier childhood was great I thought, then I started school…of course everyone knew who I was and compared me to my older brother. All of the teachers would say, “John is wonderful, I know I can count you to be the best because your brother John is the best”. I became so sick and tired of hearing “John this and John that”…I was glad that there was integration because I would be able to make a name for myself without my brother John or so I thought…Not so quick Julie… Many of the teachers from the predominately black schools integrated as well and many of them in Jr. high and High school had been my brother John’s teachers too!
    I was like “DAMN, DAMN, DAMN”! But you know, I was able to get through and I did do well. My brother John was Salutatorian of his graduating class, but I was Third Honor, they don’t have a name for it, but according to the scores I was right after the Salutatorian…so I got the Silver Medal…

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