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American-African family at table during thanksgiving dinner

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Is middle-child syndrome a thing? It’s certainly something psychologists have spent decades researching. Studies have come up with some interesting data. Science Direct reports that middle children are less likely than youngest and oldest children to turn to their parents for comfort during times of stress. The research also showed that middle children are the least likely to identify with their parents – as in, when asked if they see their parents’ character traits in themselves, they tend to say they do not. Research out of the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that middle children are the least comfortable talking to their parents about uncomfortable topics like sex education, and might be the most likely to develop issues with depression.

 

With all of this in mind, one can see how parents should probably pay close attention to the development of their middle child. Being the middle child isn’t easy. You’re not given the respect and freedom of the oldest child, nor are you babied and coddled like the youngest. What’s left as far as perks go for the middle child? They’re often stuck being bossed around by their older sibling, and being given babysitting duties over the younger one. It’s not always the fairest of trades. If you do have an odd number of children, here are some mistakes to be aware of that parents make with middle children.

middle child syndrome

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Uneven disciplining

Middle children can feel like they get the worst of all worlds when it comes to being disciplined. Parents might have learned some things and had some experiences with the eldest child that made them develop stricter guidelines for the second. The middle child watches the older one have more autonomy, while they face harsher rules. Meanwhile, the youngest child gets away with everything, always under the excuse of, “They’re a baby. They didn’t know any better. You should have known better.” Whichever way they look, the middle child sees their siblings enjoying looser discipline than they do. It’s important that parents discipline their children fairly, and evenly, to prevent rebellious behavior from the middle kid.

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