Middle children tend to feel they are born “too late” to get special privileges of the first born and then born “too soon” to get the special treatment (easier discipline) of the baby. They are “squeezed” and feel they have always had to compete with a sibling for parental attention.
Since middle children may look more to their peer group for attention and acceptance, they tend to acquire excellent communication skills as they deal with both older and younger siblings and their friends.
However, middle children tend to be the most difficult to characterize, having contradictory personality traits. Second born children tend to “bounce off” the firstborn – or the child immediately ahead of them – often developing opposite traits of the firstborn. Because they look to their peers for acceptance, middle children tend to be sociable, friendly and peacemakers. They learn how to compromise and negotiate, so they are good mediators.
The firstborn has “blazed the trail” so parents are more experienced and less anxious when parenting the next child. But the parents will often have less time to spend one-on-one with their second / middle child and are often less excited with the child’s accomplishments.
Suggestions for parenting middle children:
For generalizations and guidelines for parenting children of other birth orders, please look below.