3-4 YEARS OLD
Help your middle child overcome feelings of neglect and negativity.
It is convenient for your kids to attend the same class, but this can smother your middle child’s individuality.
If you have three kids, consider how your No. 2 is coping with middle child syndrome. That’s when he feels hard done by because of his position in the family.
He gets neither the advantages of the eldest child (who has all the “ﬁrsts” and is allowed the most freedom) nor the advantages of the youngest (often spoilt and allowed to do most things he was never allowed to).
Learn how to prevent his sense of injustice in the following complaints.
“You always miss me out.”
THE COMPLAINT THE SOLUTION Make sure your middle child feels as special as his siblings. He needs to feel that he matters as much as other kids in the family. So ensure he doesn’t get lost in that psychological space between the oldest and the youngest by giving him a fair share of your individual attention. A few minutes of one-on-one time with you each day is all that is required.
“You don’t care about me.”
THE COMPLAINT THE SOLUTION
You may ﬁnd that you are less excited about his success than you were about his elder sister’s gains (such as her ﬁrst step, ﬁrst word, ﬁrst maths test score). It’s not that you love him less; it’s just that the novelty has worn off. That’s why you need to show enthusiasm for all your middle child’s achievements.
“I never get to choose.”
THE SOLUTION For the next family outing, discuss the options with your kids and let the middle child decide. That empowers him, allows him the experience of making choices, and prevents him from feeling his voice is never heard. And if you ask him to choose, accept his decision even if it isn’t your preference.
“I’m never rst in line.”
THE SOLUTION Why should your ﬁrstborn always be served ﬁrst? It’s important that your middle child has his turn of being ﬁrst sometimes. That helps prevent him from feeling that he is always at the back of the queue.
“I always get hand-me-downs.”
It’s often cost-effective to buy your oldest child the unisex jumper because she can pass the clothes she has outgrown to her younger siblings. That’s a good use of the resources. But, if possible, occasionally let your middle child be the one who gets the new item. He’ll really appreciate the opportunity.
“I’m fed up being compared to my brother.”
THE SOLUTION Treat each kid individually. Comparing one to another – especially of the middle child against his older sibling – is always divisive and rarely productive. It’s best to avoid sibling comparisons altogether, and instead, judge your children’s achievements against themselves.
“You make me do what my sister does.”
If your eldest kid attends a drama class, it is probably convenient for your middle child to attend the same class – this can be much easier than attending a different activity. However, this tactic smothers your middle child’s individuality. When you can, give him a free choice about his leisure activities.