Middle child syndrome by Claire

It all proved too much for my little nine-year-old son this evening...

...he broke down into tears with his head in his hands and sobbed that he had enough of all the problems in his life. My heart really went out to him and not for the first time, I apologised to him for my inability to be able to change things around him which would make his life easier. T is the second eldest of my children. Before baby Freddy arrived 6 months ago, he was my middle son and sandwiched as he was between two brothers on the Autistic spectrum, he has never had things easy.

[advert:mpu]First of all he had that rather dubious position of the middle child in the family. It would seem that middle child syndrome is very real. It was the psychiatrist Alfred Adler, a contemporary of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, the original "fathers" of studying the intricate workings of the human mind who first came up with ideas about family and social interactions. The concept of birth order was his study of sibling interactions and psychological aspects at birth, or more precisely, how being the first, middle or youngest child affected the person's social interaction later on in life.

Middle kids bemoan their fate as being ignored and often grow resentful of all the parental attention given to the oldest and the baby of the family, and feel short-changed. Middle children have to try a little harder to “be heard” or get noticed. The middle child usually has to fight harder for the attention of their parents and therefore crave the family spotlight. They may feel that they do not get as much praise as the older children for simple firsts like tying a shoe or riding a bike. Those things just become expected.

For T of course, all this is compounded by the fact that both brothers either side of him have autism, which just amplifies his belief that he is not important as they both get more than their share of support, help and needs met. He’s not achieving his potential at school; his lack of belief in himself seems to have permeated into his academic achievement, which means he tends to give up trying before he has even started.

So, with a self-referral to the GP (luckily we have a sympathetic one who believes in children speaking up for themselves) we have managed to get Thomas some counselling with a play therapist. Even just the opportunity for Thomas to be able to bemoan things in his life that he doesn’t like to a sympathetic ear is therapy itself. And the fact that mummy takes some time out every week to take him there and spend time with him on his own helps to make him feel special, which of course he is! Let’s just hope the effort pays off and things start looking up for this little fella…

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