Middle children often are the forgotten children. This is especially true if the older sibling happens to be the same sex as the middle child. I was a middle child who had an older sister and a younger brother. My sister was the first born so needless to say received tons of attention. By the time I came along, everyone was hoping for a boy, but instead they received me. My younger brother came and everyone was once again excited. I tried in the beginning to get attention but after several failed attempts I just started to act like I didn't want attention. I built a protective barrier around myself. My barrier was a smart mouth, bad temper, and constant back talking and complaining. This was very effective in keeping everyone at a distance. I then told myself that I was rejecting them, not them rejecting me. I think that middle children learn to be independent survivors. All children need love, affection and a feeling of belonging. If you do not receive it, which is very common for the middle child, you go through life distancing yourself from others. As a parent now of a middle child son who has an older and younger brother, I make sure to follow the following steps to help him avoid the same pitfalls of my childhood:
1. Always be affectionate, even if they try to push you away, they really want it!
2. Spend quality alone time with your middle child.
3. Take time to listen to their problems, disappointments, hopes, and dreams.
4. Take an interest in their activities.
5. Tell them that they are important.
6. If they try to distance themselves from you, tell them that you know what they are trying to do and it won’t work because you will love them anyways.
7. Do not point out there bad qualities and ask them why can't they be more like their brother or sister.
8. Do not let them hide behind their sarcasm, anger, or bad attitude. This is just a cover up for a deep longing to be loved!
9. Be patient with them, they are good at controlling situations and lashing out to protect themselves from their self imposed barrier.
10. Last and most important, tell them that you love them, hug them and then when they test your patience, do it again!
The ultimate goal is to raise healthy, happy and well adjusted children. Middle child syndrome is very real and these kids seem to need extra special attention to establish a worthiness of being loved and accepted. Take the extra time needed to care for your forgotten child!