Combating Middle Child Syndrome, One Small Moment at a TimeMeghan Gesswein
Having three kids, I’ve always been wary of the so-called “middle child syndrome.” As the story goes, the middle child is the most neglected of the three kids, coming in behind both the glorious first born and the much loved baby of the family. This neglect leads to feelings of inadequacy and, understandably, hurt feelings.
Luckily, though, our middle child has a fierce, amazing personality that makes it virtually impossible for us to (subconsciously) treat him any different than we treat our other two kids. He’s just…really fun to be around, which makes it especially easy to, you know, not forget about him.
Having said that, though, I do at times feel as if he is feeling slightly left out. His older brother was involved in summer, and now fall, baseball and he isn’t, because he’s too young. The baby, by virtue of being completely dependent on adults for, well, everything, gets a lot of attention (both good and bad). This leaves Zach floating around in the middle, trying to figure out how to entertain himself for periods of time. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does I make a concerted effort to put in a little extra Zach time.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or involved, just making the effort to acknowledge him and focus all of my energies on him for a few minutes is all he needs to boost his spirits. Sometimes it’s reading a book with no one else around, sitting outside looking for shooting stars after his brothers have gone to bed, taking a trip to the store, or having a snack on the front porch.
This happened just the other day, when his older brother was engrossed in a video game that was just above his skill level and his little brother had possession of the iPad. He came over to me, looking totally pathetic, and said “There’s nothing fun for me to do. This is the worst day ever.” I asked him if he wanted to grab a snack and sit with me outside for a bit. He brightened a bit at this suggestion, and was even more excited when I told him that he could choose the snack. I had my eye on the snickerdoodles that were sitting on the counter, but he opened the fridge and pulled out a Yoplait Trix container. “You want one too, Mommy” he asked. How could I say no?
So my boy and I sat on the porch, ate our Trix Yogurt and talked about important things, like his new friends at Kindergarten, and what we were going to do for the upcoming weekend. After our little snack and chat, he ran back inside and happily engaged in a puzzle, which piqued his little brother’s curiosity, so he even ended up with a playmate. I think, in the end, I was able to turn his “worst day ever” into a pretty decent one.