What Are the Ramifications of Being the Middle Child According to Birth Order Theory?


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According to an Adlerian view of birth order, the middle child may feel that he has been squeezed out of a privileged position. A middle child may be even-tempered, but might also have trouble finding his place in the world. Alfred Adler was the first psychiatrist to propose the theory that birth order had an effect on people's personalities.

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Middle children may try to impress their peers, as the parents are occupied with helping the firstborn to grow up and looking after the baby. A middle child may seek out a large circle of friends and become something of a people pleaser in order to get the attention they feel they do not get from their parents. Middle children also come with an occasional rebellious streak; however, they may also look up to their older siblings for behavioral cues.

Other factors that influence children as they grow include the age gap between the child and other siblings, family demographics, social status and changes in the household. Traumatic events, such as a parent's death, can also affect children. Researchers including Frank Sulloway and Delroy Paulhus have written that firstborn children display similar traits; however, other researchers, including Judith Rich Harris, have suggested that birth order does not affect personality.

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