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20 Middle Child Facts and Statistics Worth Knowing

Is middle child syndrome a real thing?

If you’re a middle child, you’ve probably heard of — or been accused of having — “middle child syndrome”. Middle child syndrome is the idea that being a middle child shapes a person’s life experiences and characteristics, and not necessarily in a positive way.

But how true is this theory? We’re going to look at official scientific findings to see whether being born in the middle of a group of siblings has any consequences.

We’ve gathered 20 interesting middle child facts and statistics, including personality traits, sibling dynamics, and real-life examples

Key Facts About Middle Children

Let’s look at five of the most important middle sibling facts and statistics:

  1. Middle children are found to have the lowest self-esteem of all siblings.
  2. Middle children may be quieter than their siblings.
  3. Middle children have more problems with delinquency as they compete for attention.
  4. Middle children may engage in sex at an earlier age compared to their older siblings.
  5. Middle children have the stereotype of seeking friendship, which is evident in Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, who is a middle child.

How Does Birth Order Impact a Child?

There is some concrete evidence that birth order does affect one’s personality and psychology. Research has found that firstborns have a higher IQ, for example (1).

Last-born children are more likely to earn less than their siblings, especially female last-borns (2). Only children are more anxious than first-, middle-, and last-born children (3).

Middle children are more likely to have the lowest self-esteem due to a ‘lack of uniqueness’ in their family (4).

Ultimately, science has found that birth order does impact children. However, many other factors are involved, including parenting styles, socioeconomic status, and education.

20 Middle Child Facts and Statistics

We’re going to unpack 20 fun facts about middle child energy, middle children’s relationship with their families, and their psychology. Let’s see how being a middle child manifests in adults and children.

Middle Child Personality Traits

There are stereotypes about middle children, such as they aren’t as clever and are rebellious. But let’s look at concrete facts and evidence to see what personality traits middle children typically share.

  1. They have low self-esteem: Studies have found that middle-born children, especially males, have the lowest self-esteem. It’s theorized that this is due to a lack of uniqueness and not getting enough attention from their parents. Despite this, they are not the most likely in the birth order to experience depression; only children are (5).
  2. They are peacemakers: Middle children organically become the peacemakers among their siblings since they are sandwiched between the oldest and youngest (6).
  3. They may be quieter: Middle siblings may often be quieter than their older and younger siblings since the oldest sibling is usually strong-willed and the youngest sibling is the “baby” of the family, and they naturally get more attention.
  4. They are sociable: Middle children are often more sociable and outgoing since they have to learn to make themselves heard amongst busy families (7).
  5. They have good leadership qualities: While first-born children are known to be natural leaders, middle children also have great leadership qualities. In fact, 52 percent of U.S. presidents have been middle children (8).
  6. They are perfectionists: One study found that middle children are more likely to be extreme perfectionists, wishing for things to remain in their control.
  7. They are creative: A researcher has claimed that middle children are likelier to be creative, as the drawbacks they experience as children allow them to be more empathetic and creative (9).

Sibling Dynamics and Parent Relationships

Does being a middle child affect their communication with siblings and parents? Research has something to say about it! Let’s look into these seven (somewhat sad) facts and theories.

  1. Lack of parental attention: Middle children often don’t get as much attention as their older or younger siblings. This is thought to be linked to middle children seeking attention from their peers, which can often lead to issues with delinquency (10).
  2. Jealousy and competition: Being a middle child, especially the third child, is theorized to lead to sibling rivalry. This is due to the siblings competing over their parents’ attention and resources. Over time, this can cause jealousy among siblings.
  3. Middle-borns seeking parental attention: Middle children are sometimes more risk-taking and extreme in order to gain their parents’ attention and resources. They are keen to stand out, meaning they can be more innovative with their actions (11).
  4. Parents may be warmer: Research states that parents are often warmer and less confrontational towards second or middle children during adolescence than they are with first-borns (12). They are more confident in their parenting abilities and, therefore, less worried and reactive.
  5. Learning about the birds and the bees from siblings: Younger and middle-born siblings often learn about sex at an earlier age. Their older siblings may discuss sexual activity, childbearing, and sexual practices, especially if they are the same sex (i.e., sisters) and they have a comfortable relationship. Younger siblings are more likely to have sex at an earlier age.
  6. Family dynamic influences feelings of belonging: When middle children feel ‘squeezed’ into a family, they can have challenges finding their place and feeling like they belong. This can affect their interest in socializing, causing difficulties when working with others or forming relationships.
  7. They seek support outside of the family: Middle children often seek support outside the family because they feel like they get less support and attention from their parents. They look for validation and support from friends and partners; they can be less family-orientated, and they place a high value on friendships.

Middle Child Stereotypes and Real-Life Examples

We’re going to look at a few middle-child stereotypes and share real-life examples of famous middle-children who fit the bill.

  1. Rebellious: It’s a stereotype that middle children are rebellious. It’s worth noting that there is some evidence that middle children are more likely to be delinquents. Susan B. Anthony, a middle child of seven siblings, was a rebel in her own way (13). As a 19th-century suffragette, she was even arrested when she was 52 for voting illegally in the 1872 presidential election.
  2. Mediator: Middle children often become family peacemakers, ensuring everyone is happy. Model Bella Hadid, a middle child, claims she feels like the typical middle child because she always keeps the peace and ensures everyone is ‘satisfied’ (14).
  3. They seek friendship: Middle-borns often seek friendship outside of the family, placing a high value on relationships of this kind. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, is a middle child, and what screams the need to connect more than Facebook?
  4. Super independence: Middle children can be very independent since they have to learn to be self-reliant from an early age. Bill Gates, a co-founder of Microsoft, is a highly independent man who dropped out of Harvard to launch Microsoft and, thus, began his journey to becoming a billionaire (15).
  5. Anger issues: There is a stereotype that middle children have anger issues, possibly rooted in the fact that they have to vie for their parent’s attention. Conor McGregor, a professional boxer, is a middle child, and he has apparent anger issues. In 2018, he attacked a UFC bus during a fit of rage, causing injury to two other fighters (16).
  6. They work to stand out: Middle children often do outrageous, amazing, and innovative things to stand out. Middle-child celebrities who fit this stereotype include many people in the spotlight: Jennifer Lopez, Michael Jordan, Miley Cyrus, and Katy Perry.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a Scottish freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. She is a mum to a young boy, and believes that it truly takes a village. When she’s not parenting, writing about parenting, or working, she can be found reading, working on her novel, taking photos, playing board games or wandering through the countryside with her family.