The Hidden Strengths of Being a Middle Child
Ask any middle child and they will tell you that middle child syndrome is real. Parents who made the brave choice to have three children may agree. The so-called “syndrome” encompasses the idea that middle children are ignored, because they are neither the firstborn, nor the baby of the family. They are stuck in the middle with parents who ignore them in favor of guiding the eldest and catering to the youngest, while the lowly middle is left to fend for themselves.
While middle-borns may grow up feeling excluded or neglected compared to their older and younger siblings, it turns out there are some long-term benefits to growing up in the middle.
Here are a few characteristics middle child:
They’re the good kids.
According to a 1964 study from Texas Christian University and the University of Minnesota (which is still valid today), middle children tend to be the best behaved of the bunch.
They are born negotiators.
“Middle-borns are the most willing to wheel and deal,” Frank Sulloway, PhD, told Parents.com. This is because children are quite literally born in the middle, they are used to negotiating sibling disputes. Thanks to growing up between warring factions, many middle children learn important skills in patience and diplomacy.
They work well with others.
A 1966 study in The Journal of Genetic Psychology found that middle children tend to do better in group situations, most likely because they were born smack dab in the middle of a group and learned from an early age how to navigate it.
They tend to be mentally healthy
In a 2013 study, researchers at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid found that middle children who lived with both biological parents were less likely to develop emotional disorders or be diagnosed with ADHD than their siblings.
They make excellent partners
According to Katrin Schumann, co-author of The Secret Power of Middle Children, a marital happiness survey revealed that middle children are the happiest and most satisfied in relationships.
Another study revealed that middle-born children grow up to be great partners. This is because they tend to get along with many different personality types and because they value close relationships making them less likely to be unfaithful.
They tend to make excellent friends.
Perhaps because they receive less attention from their parents while growing up, middle children compensate for that with friendships. They tend to work hard to maintain friendships and typically form a close bond with a select group of friends, Dr. Gail Gross, a parenting and human behavior expert, wrote in Huffington Post.
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They are successful
Schumann, the co-author of The Secret Power of Middle Children, notes that middle children tend to be independent and creative, which can be a great recipe for success. That’s why 52 percent of all American presidents have been middle children, as well as success stories like Bill Gates and Martin Luther King, Jr.
They are great team players
“They become more independent, think outside the box, feel less pressure to conform, and are more empathetic,” explains Schumann in Psychology Today. “This gives them great skills as employees and also makes them excellent team players and partners.”
They are open-minded
Because middle-born children are forced to be more independent while their parents tend to the other children, middles end up more open-minded and willing to try new things than their older or younger siblings, says Dr. Catherine Salmon, a psychology professor at the University of Redlands in California and co-author of the book The Secret Power of Middle Children.