Once you have more than two children, you create that child caught in the middle of the older and younger siblings. The psychology of birth order can tell you a lot about your middle child. Learning what motivates him and why he acts the way he does may help you parent more effectively.
Behaviors of middle children vary according to the child, states Sue Flanagan and Patty Morrison, West Virginia University Extension agents. A middle child might be shy and timid or amicable and outgoing. Some middle children strive to outdo the older sibling(s) and other middle children opt to bow out of all competition to avoid it altogether. A middle child may search for something to focus on that is different and set apart from the other siblings.
Lack of Prime Position
With the oldest and youngest sibling positions taken, the middle child may feel like he doesn’t have a prime position in the family. He’s not the leader as the first born and he’s not the baby as the youngest. While this may seem to be a disadvantage, this middle position can also be a benefit to a middle child because he can learn how to survive in multiple roles within the family as both older and younger sibling.
The middle child often develops strong social skills as she strives to get along in the family, states psychologist Bernardo Tirado with the Psychology Today website. The middle child may exhibit diplomatic skills as she interacts with others, also showing strong negotiating and mediating abilities to work with others effectively. Middle children may seek to avoid conflict, and they also tend to have strong loyalty, acting as beneficial team players in a variety of situations. Because of the middle child’s strong social skills, she may be popular, with many friends.
In the 2009 article “Birth Order: Self-Injurious and Suicidal Behaviour Among Adolescents,” researchers studied children in a German psychiatric clinic to learn about self-injurious behavior. According to results of the study, middle children were the most likely group to exhibit self-injurious behavior. Girls were two times more likely than boys to self-injure. In addition, suicidal behavior increased for children from families with four or more children.
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images