I don’t buy into all the birth order stuff, but I do find it fascinating, right along with simply analyzing my children’s personalities. In my child development classes in my undergrad, I leaned more towards nurture over nature, sighting examples from my adopted brother.
But, as I became a parent, I realized I had less control over core temperament and personality than I thought. I also realized birth order wasn’t about the child’s order of birth, rather it was the order the child arrived on your parenting journey. Best advice I received when I was pregnant with my first came from a stranger with 4 kids. She said “I wish I would have raised my first like I do my fourth. Relax, laugh, enjoy. ”
Here’s a few things we have done in awareness of middle kid syndrome, but I’d love to hear from you…especially the middle kids of the world.
1. Force yourself to ask the middle or younger siblings to help you or each other. Don’t always ask the oldest. Start that young, even if you are making stuff up for the youngest to help with because they are only 1 or 2 or whatever. Now that my kids are 10,9,7.5 that has all melted. They honestly can each help equally, no faking. I love it when my oldest asks the youngest for help with something.
2. Start a pace with pictures and videos you can keep up with all your children. My husband and I were the youngest. We know this well…but it doesn’t mean I’m keeping up. When I DO catch up they will each have an equal amount of individual “baby books” from 0-3. Then, I’m putting all pictures in the same family digital album, and ordering multiple copies. They’ll be stuck seeing how unified we are, and they’ll all have copies of “ammo” for later in life to post on each other.
3. I cringe when I hear the phrase “Middle Kid Syndrome”. The day my daughter became the middle one, we made it the coolest place to be. We give her middle kid privileges! Example: Sometimes we tell her family news first and let her announce it to everyone. We don’t do random things by order of birth…say who gets to open the first Christmas present or whatever. We’re random. In one of the houses we lived in I had the 3 kids’ names on the wall in the playroom…out of “order”. It amazed me how many people commented on it.
4. My middle kid’s Middle Kid Aunt gave her this book when she was about 2, about the same time we gave her a little stuffed bunny. She named her bunny, “Bun-Bun”, because she loved this book so much. Bun Bun Babbit is her most prized possession. Sidenote: we bought Bun Bun when we were living in England and visiting Austria (pre-kids). That bunny just jumped off the shelf. Instead of giving it to the obvious firstborn, we held onto it, giving it to the middle kid;)
5. Piggy backing on above, we start conversations with family members with matching birth order to our kids…Hey, tell Maya what it was like to be the oldest in your family…or tell Ava what it was like to be the middle kid in your family, etc.
Don’t be shy, tell me about your birth order experiences and observations!