There's a lot of pressure on parents these days when having three or more kids. You could be ruining your middleborn child without realizing it.
If you're like most parents, your focus tends to be on either your oldest or youngest child. You might not think about the middle child nearly as much. You may even often overlook your middleborn, and that can be problematic. Some would argue that it can be more challenging for middle children to find their place in the world, and they might have a point. With so much focus on either the first or last born, it's easy for these children to feel left out and underappreciated, but they need love too!
There is an upside to being the middleborn. Because your middleborn is constantly surrounded by family and feels overshadowed by their siblings, they are less likely to get diagnosed with mental disorders like ADHD or emotional distress.
If your middleborn child feels neglected, they may have a difficult time in relationships as adults. We'll discuss how this can happen and what you should avoid doing so that your middleborn doesn't feel left out.
Here are five ways you're ruining your middleborn.
1. They have zero first experiences.
Your middleborn never gets the spotlight like your firstborn or your precious last-born. They'll always be in someone else's shadow. Everything has already been done before them. Without ever being the first to experience anything, they may feel cheated out of opportunities. Their siblings have already had that chance. They may feel like their parents don't care enough to make new opportunities for them or try fun things they haven't done before. They don't get the first crack at playing with a new toy or even getting new clothes for school.
When you have younger and older children, it's easy to hand down toys, and clothes which is great, don't get us wrong. But it's also nice to get something new that they picked out just for themselves. When you do this, they'll feel like they're just as important and unique to you as their siblings are.
2. Your praise is not equal.
You praise your firstborn more than you do your middle one. You always make a bigger deal about the oldest, but it's important to remember that they have an equally special place in your heart! If this is how you treat them throughout their childhood and into adulthood, they may feel unimportant or underappreciated.
They could grow into negative people who sabotage themselves later on down the road. Middleborn children often get forgotten because they're sandwiched between two more interesting people. When they feel like they're not being given the same amount of praise as their siblings, they could begin to act out for your attention. Recognize and praise their accomplishments, and they'll be happier children with a more positive outlook on life. Make a big deal out of it when necessary. If they get an excellent grade on an exam, if they win a soccer game, if they paint a beautiful picture, maybe take them out for ice cream or let them pick a way to celebrate.
You can also treat your middleborn child with extra attention by taking the time to listen and understand their perspective on things. They do not like being ignored or feeling as if they're just an afterthought in the family, so make sure you know what's going on in their world. Make sure they're always part of the conversations at dinner. Ask them how their day was or what's new in their life. They'll feel valued and will know you're always on their side.
If your middle child is feeling left out or ignored, it means they probably are being neglected. They don't want to be treated the same way as their siblings, so make sure you give them love and attention just like any other family member! Make time for them and be there for them when they need you. Don't neglect their hobbies or athletic games either. Show up and be there cheering them on, don't be consumed by your phone. Participating in their sports or activities will show them you're interested and that they matter to the family.
3. You're not helping them stand out.
As a middle child, your child wants to feel special and unique. They want their own identity that isn't shared with anyone else in the family. If you don't help them find ways to make themselves known, then they'll become frustrated by always being "invisible." For example, find ways to incorporate their interests into the household. If they love baseball and you have season tickets, take them with you as often as possible. Have time during the week where you both can sit down and have a baseball talk. Include your other children if they're interested.
It gets often said that middleborns are the artistic ones in the family because it's the one area unclaimed by siblings. Your firstborn is a perfectionist who usually dominates the athletic world, and your youngest usually dominates anything dealing with academics. If they're interested in being artsy, take them to a painting, pottery, or even a DIY craft course.
It's also crucial for parents to take time out of the day, even if it's only a few minutes, where you can spend one on one with your middle child without the other children around. It will allow them to let loose and relax, knowing that they have your full undivided attention.
If they're struggling with their identity, take time to help them discover who they are. The more they know about themselves and who they want to be, the easier it will become. They'll find their path in life while still being a part of your family unit.
4. You constantly make comparisons.
They try to live up to the eldest's legacy and deal with the youngest's magic charm. Which usually makes for a mentally strong human being later in life, or it could backfire, and they could become insecure.
One way to avoid this is by making sure they know that there are no rules regarding family. Some parents will make the mistake of thinking that if one child was a particular type of person, then it makes sense for them to expect another to follow suit. They can be anything or anyone they want, regardless of what their older sister or younger brother have become. You may want them to follow in their older siblings' footsteps, but this could lead to feelings of hatred or even inferiority. Let them be their own person. It is best for them and their siblings.
Remember, your middleborn child is not the same as their older one, and they should be allowed to grow up in a way that makes them happy. They're also less likely to develop ADHD than their siblings due to the fact that they're able to find their own activities and discover things that they're interested in.
5. You're guilty of favoritism.
Your children should never feel like they need to compete for your love and attention. If you have always been close to the oldest or youngest, it may seem easier for you, but they need equal treatment. Some parents may think favoritism is harmless, or your children don't notice. Both opinions are wrong. Children can zero in on those clues you don't realize you're leaving pretty quickly.
You may feel like you get drawn to the child that reminds you most of yourself. However, you need to prevent yourself from ever loving one of your children more than the others. For parents, this may be a complex concept to grasp. After all, you have strong feelings towards your children, and it's only natural that one might stand out more than the others. Instead, celebrate their differences and remind yourself to balance your love. Each of your children is unique in their way, and they should never feel less than the others.
Above all, be sure to make them always feel included no matter what is going on. It will help them develop a sense of security that they can rely on. While you may not be able to control everything for your middleborn, remember what is most important: being there and loving equally at all times.