10 Surprising Scientific Facts About Middle Children

Suzee Skwiot | Sep 17, 2014 Being a Mom
10 Surprising Scientific Facts About Middle Children

three sisters

As parents, when you're considering making the jump from two kids to three, one specific thought will enter your mind: Middle Child Syndrome. You'll have your oldest and first, then you'll have your newborn, and your middle child will be placed in the dreaded in-betweener spot. But fear not, because as scary as the "middle child" label may be, they're far from being the "forgotten child."

From their personality traits to their success later in life, birth order can play a big role in a child's development. And scientists have spent significant time looking at just what it means to be a middle child.

Does #7 ring true for the middle children in your life?

 Middle Children

For more surprising facts, read:

11 Surprising Scientific Facts About Firstborn Children

9 Surprising Scientific Facts About Youngest Children

11 Surprising Facts About Babies Born During the Summer

10 Surprising Facts About Babies Born in the Winter

8 Surprising Scientific Facts About Only Children

8 Surprising Scientific Facts About Breastfeeding

13 Surprising Scientific Facts About Boys



Images © iStock.com/ArtisticCaptures; iStock.com/JLBarranco

  • They're Emotionally A-OK


    Image © Florin Prunoiu/Corbis. 

    In a 2013 study, researchers at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid found that middle children who lived with both biological parents were less likely to develop emotional disorders or be diagnosed with ADHD than their siblings.

    Why? They're constantly surrounded by family and siblings. The doctors determined that's a surefire way for them to stay healthy.

  • They're Team Players


    Image © Mark Seelen/Corbis. 

    When it comes to team sports, middle kids are the best at adapting and playing with a larger group. A 1966 study in the The Journal of Genetic Psychology (and it still holds true today) found that middle children tend to do better in group situations. So if you're deciding between tennis and soccer lessons for your child, they'll be far more suited for the latter. Give them some friends and an activity, and they'll be ready to go.

  • They Take Risks


    Image via alexbrn/Flickr

    When analyzing the data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, researchers at the University of Colorado at Denver found that middle children (along with last-borns) take more risks with alcohol and sex. First-borns tend to be more mild in their actions, but middles throw caution to the wind. And before you start thinking it might be all them, it actually might come down to parenting: by the time that second or third kid rolls around, researchers say Mom and Dad may be more lax in their rules.

  • They Really Do Get the Shaft From Mom and Dad


    Image © Corbis

    In the book, The Social Outcast: Ostracism, Social Exclusion, Rejection, and Bullying, Australian researcher Julie Fitness outlines her shocking study results: middle children are almost never considered the "favorite child." Now, yes, you might be shaking your head and demanding that you "don't have a favorite child," but science would say otherwise. Maybe a preference? Either way, it looks like it's definitely either your first or youngest child.

  • They're the 'Good' Kids


    Image © Florin Prunoiu/Corbis

    All right, so they're maybe not the "favorite," but that doesn't mean they act out. In fact, a 1964 study done by the Texas Christian University and the University of Minnesota looked into peer acceptance and rejection in relation to birth order. Ultimately, researchers found that middle children, who are surrounded by both older and younger siblings, do not "act out." In fact, they're the most well-adjusted of the bunch.

  • They're Not As Smart As Their Older Siblings, But There's Still Good News!


    Image © Jim Craigmyle/Corbis

    A 2001 study published by the American Psychological Association found that the more siblings a child has, the less intelligent they are. This is the "dilution model" and it exists because parents naturally are able to spend less and less time with each child in order to help with learning and comprehension. So for middle children, they're less intelligent than their older sibling but more intelligent than their younger brother or sister. So take that, baby brother!

  • They're Successful


    Image via anafeliciano/Flickr

    Katrin Schumann, the co-author of The Secret Power of Middle Children, notes that middle children have actually come out on top in many ways. Take this fun fact, for example: 52 percent of all American presidents have been middle children. Add Bill Gates, Julia Roberts, Donald Trump, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela to that list and you have a pretty successful roster of middles. Schumann notes that since middle kids tend to be more independent and creative, that's a perfect recipe for a thriving future.

  • They're Great Negotiators


    Image via cnj_oficial/Flickr

    Just adds to the politician career path here, doesn't it? Drs. Jason Kaufman and Daniel Eckstein looked into famed psychotherapist Alfred Adler's individual psychology theory and researched how birth order affects personality. In their 2012 studies, they found that since middle siblings may have to negotiate between the oldest and youngest children, and always have to be articulate in order to be heard, they're excellent at eloquently presenting their points.

  • They're Attracted to Other Middle Kids


    Image © Moxie Productions/Corbis

    You love what you are, right? A 2009 study published in the Journal of Individual Psychology finally looked into birth order and romantic partnerships and found that middle children tend to fall in love and grow romantic relationships with other middle children.

  • They're Marriage Material


    Image via tranbina/Flickr

    The same 2009 study on birth order and romantic preferences looked at 2,500 individuals and their partners and determined that middle children end up in much happier relationships and choose to stay faithful to both romantic partners and friends. There's one thing you know for sure: you can always count on your middle kiddo to stay devoted and true.


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