Parenting Resources

Parenting Second Born Children and Middle Children

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:

  1. Allow the middle child to have input in family decisions.  Ask your child what she would like for dinner, what she would like to do for family night.
  2. Make a special effort to spend individual time with your middle child.  Take him on a special outing so just the two of you are together.
  3. Allow your child to express her feelings.  It may take longer for your middle child to feel comfortable telling you what she is thinking and feeling, so take the time to accommodate her.
  4. As you take family photos, remember to take pictures of your second or middle child by himself – and don’t forget to make a photo album for him, too!
  5. Think of some special privileges for your middle child – as well as some responsibilities.
  6. Have the same high expectations for your middle child and encourage her work in school.
  7. Remember to spend time reading with your second child!
  8. Encourage your middle child to try different activities than your other children.  Allow him to differentiate himself from his siblings.
  9. Dare we say allow her to go to the store to chose some new outfits instead of wearing all hand-me-downs?

For generalizations and guidelines for parenting children of other birth orders, please look below.