5 Tips on parenting middle children

From the moment the doctor said “congratulations you have a baby boy” I felt truly blessed.  We chose the name Nathaniel,  in Hebrew meaning Gift of God; God has given because Nate coming after having a miscarriage truly did feel like a gift.  Because of my miscarriage I felt more anxious during my pregnancy with Nate, especially during each ultrasound as it was during an ultrasound that they told me they could no longer find a heartbeat with the baby before him.  I remember being more conscious about what I ate, did not miss a day of taking my prenatal vitamins and made sure to put my feet up when I was feeling tired.

Now here he is on his 6th birthday and I still find myself paying a bit more attention to Nate, not because I think anything bad will happen to him but simply because he is the middle child and being sandwiched in between 2 sisters I feel even more of the need to make sure he feels significant.  I’ve read so much on the “middle child syndrome” which scared me a bit because as “they” say middle children get lost, are not as close to their parents or can even have an identity crisis!  CRISIS?!!  I’m sorry but being a mental health nurse in emergency and urgent care I am a bit sensitive to the word crisis lol.  To my relief however “they” also say that if your middle child is the only boy or girl they don’t seem to have the middle child syndrome.  Phew!  This made me feel a little better but it still bothers me a bit, the somewhat negative connotation they give the middle child, and after one day Nate telling Ren and I that he feels “left out” sometimes being the only boy at home when Ren is at work, I do my best to make sure he never feels lost in our family.  Below I share the top 5 things we do to avoid middle child syndrome.

1.) REALLY celebrate successes. – After having experienced all of the big milestones with your firstborn, like first steps, first day of kindergarten, first game or recital, parents may be less excited as they were with the first already knowing what to expect. I find putting A LOT of emphasis on the middle child’s achievements helps build self confidence and a sense of belonging.

2.) Make special time for just them. – This I feel really applies to all kids.  Allowing some time for just them, scheduling it on the calendar and telling them about it.  This is often a time they look forward to and makes them feel just as important as their other siblings.

3.) Do not compare. – This goes without saying.  Comparing children is the worst, and I know from my own experience.  I remember sitting in chemistry class and getting my test back barely passing and the teacher saying to me “are you sure you are Brian’s sister? (my older brother who literally got 100% on all of his exams).  I was mortified hearing it from a teacher and could only imagine how I would feel hearing that from my parents.  Every child has their strengths and highlighting their strengths goes a long way.

4.) Ask for their opinion. – I find this really helpful when making any family decision.  For example what to have for dinner, what movie to watch, and even what consequences seem fair.  Making them feel like they are part of planning or decision making makes them feel significant in the family.

5.) Communicate!!!! – Communication is key in every relationship and even more so with middle children.  Taking the time to have conversations with them, whether it be in the car ride home from school, at dinner and also during your special dates.  Creating a safe environment for them to open up to you about all feelings, the good and the bad is always a good idea.

Hope this was helpful to some of you parents trying to avoid the dreaded middle child syndrome.  Have any other tips be sure to leave a comment below!  Happy Monday.

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