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Middle Child Syndrome: 7 Strengths of Middle-Borns

“Middle child syndrome” describes the feelings of neglect and isolation thought to afflict many middle-born children. But recent research shows that this “syndrome” a total myth; in fact, middle children develop personality traits that help them succeed in jobs and relationships even quicker than older and younger siblings.


By Brandon Specktor, Reader's Digest

Middle children are natural negotiators

Every child in the birth order has their gambits: The elder child has natural clout among parents and siblings, the younger has whining and sympathy on her side, and the middle must learn to negotiate between the two—by any means necessary. “Middle-borns are the most willing to wheel and deal,” notes Frank Sulloway, PhD. As a result of literally being in the middle of most sibling disputes, many middle children learn to become patient, diplomatic, good listeners, and able to see arguments from multiple sides. Their voice is rarely the loudest—but often the most persuasive.


Middle children are team players

Unlike older siblings, middle children are born into a world of sharing, proving that middle child syndrome doesn’t exist. From day one, middles must share their space, their time, their parents’ affection and, perhaps most importantly, their toys with at least one other child. Because of this, middles learn strong sharing and collaboration skills with little provocation and, as a study in the The Journal of Genetic Psychology notes, middle children tend to do better in group situations than older and younger siblings.


Middle children make the best friends

Because middle children often do receive less attention from their immediate family, they are more likely to seek strong relationships elsewhere. “As a middle child, you are likely to pick an intimate circle of friends to represent your extended family,” writes behavior and parenting expert Gail Gross, PhD. “This family of your choice is your compensation [for the lack of attention in your own home].” Friends of middles will thus benefit from a long, loyal relationship, founded on genuine compassion rather than convenience.


Middle children have small egos

Because of their lack of attention at home, some middles have been shown to develop a lower sense of self-esteem than their siblings. While this can be seen as a weakness and a symptom of middle child syndrome, there are powerful strengths on the flip-side: For one, middles are shown to deal with rejection much better than their siblings, and are also noted for having smaller egos. All this taken together leads to a powerful conclusion…


Middle children make strong leaders

Middle children are uniquely privileged to learn from their older siblings while simultaneously serving as role models to their younger siblings. This dual nature of student and teacher creates strong empathy, negotiating skills, and flexibility—all powerful tools for leaders. You might not be surprised that more than half (52 percent) of U.S. presidents have been middle children, including Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. If you’re a troublemaker, we can probably guess your birth order.


Middle children make great lovers

According to Katrin Schumann, co-author of The Secret Power of Middle Children, friendship and leadership are only two of many ‘ships that middles are born to captain; relationships are another. “An Israeli marital happiness survey shows that middles are the happiest and most satisfied in relationships,” Schumann tells Psychology Today. This may be because middle children naturally favor compromise over conflict, and are often in tune with the needs of others. Much like their friendships, middle children’s relationships tend to be long-lasting—and loyal. Still believe that there is such a thing as middle child syndrome? Science can guess your job based on your birth order.


Middle children thrive among their own kind

Full disclosure, now that we’ve come this far together: I am a middle child, my best friend is a middle child, and my partner is a middle child. Science says that’s totally normal. Per a 2009 study from the Journal of Individual Psychology, middle children tend to grow romantic relationships with other middle children. This could be attributed to the high-empathy, low-ego combo many middles exhibit—but I like to think it’s just because middle children are awesome people. Now, could I share any of my toys with you?
Family Life, Love & Romance, The Human Brain

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Bloom Magazine: Middle Child Syndrome: 7 Strengths of Middle-Borns
Middle Child Syndrome: 7 Strengths of Middle-Borns
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