What To Make Of ‘Middle Child Syndrome?’


On The Brady Bunch, Jan Brady always felt the pressure of having perfect Marcia above her and adorable Cindy below her. Middle children always get a bad rap, even if Bill Gates, Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears turned out okay.

Many struggle with “middle child syndrome,” or are accused of the negative stereotypes associated with being a middle child.

Here is what you need to know about middle children and their behavior.


It is important to understand that middle child syndrome is not an actual clinical syndrome. Psychologist Dr. Laurie Zelinger refers to it as “an observation.” That is, you cannot catch it nor is it developed biologically.

Katrin Schumann, an author of The Secret Power of Middle Children, told INSIDER “Calling what middle children experience growing up ‘a syndrome’ is a bit of a misnomer. While middles do tend to feel overlooked and undervalued, they often grow out of this as they mature and the dynamics within the family shift.”


Middle child syndrome is not necessarily a myth either. It occurs due to a child’s surroundings and how they are raised.

The experiences they have within the family will significantly impact their personality. Frank Sulloway, Ph.D., stated, “Once a role is filled by the firstborn, the second-born will seek out a role that’s completely the opposite.”

This role seeking comes from how they are perceived by their parents. If parents strap middle children with a label early on, they will fulfill that role.

Being a middle child could put you at an advantage. Generally, middle children develop more empathy and flexibility in their lives which makes them better friends and partners.

Unfortunately, these positive traits are less discussed. It is easy to overlook the positives when the stereotype of middle children is so prominent in our culture. Middle children should not feel less than and it’s up to parents to help foster these positive qualities.