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Second Child Syndrome Explained
According to a famous Austrian psychologist, Alfred Adler, certain character traits of a child depend on the birth order, i.e. whether he was the first-born or the second-born child in the family. These character traits are more likely if he has been a victim of the second or middle child syndrome, the psychological impact of being the second-born in the family. Why does a child develop this condition?
Normally, with the first child, everything is new, every experience is unique. As a parent, you are naturally driven to capture every moment, to applaud every achievement, and to generally create beautiful memories with the apple of your eye. Then, when your second child arrives, the experience is not so new. You've been there, done that. So what if your second child stood up for the first time, you've seen that before. However, it is still a first for him, isn't it? But because you've seen all this you probably fail to recognize this, and many more such achievements throughout, that makes him feel less recognized and unworthy. He may thus, also begin to develop resentful feelings for his sibling, which may lead to sibling rivalry.
Another reason for this condition is the age difference between both your children. You may not be able to manage bringing up two children, sending one to school while ensuring the younger one has had his meal on time. Managing these tasks among the various aspects of parenting becomes difficult, which is why you are unable to pay attention to your little one even if you want to. You may find yourself taking him along everywhere, while you drop your older one for various preschool activities. The whole task may, thus, have a negative effect on both, you and your child.
Second Child Characteristics
Because you can't seem to show the same excitement about your second child, as you do with your first-born, he/she is likely to develop certain 'second child traits' so that your attention will be drawn towards them.
- They may not respond to your bout of affection as a way of probably making you feel guilty about not giving them enough time. However, don't let this demotivate you. They want it much more than you could imagine.
- They are likely to do things that get them into trouble, simply as a way of seeking attention from you. Don't allow it all the time, but don't constantly reprimand them for it either.
- Your second child definitely hates a comparison to his older sibling. You simply must not say 'why can't you be like your brother/sister?', because this will further instigate him to behave otherwise.
- You are bound to face a negative attitude, a lot of sarcasm, and persistent anger from them. However, maintain your patience in such situations. These are walls they have built around them, that you can break through only over time with lots of love and affection.
- Because of the ignorance they may have faced, a second child may not be very ambitious, thinking that his efforts are not going to be recognized anyway. A second child may also face problems when it comes to dealing with pressure.
- Not every second child may behave in the aforementioned manner, but it is one of the fairly common behavioral problems in children that you may have to deal with. The second child tends to be a loner, and may not be very great with intimate relationships. He may not value them as much as his older sibling does, and this may manifest into commitment problems in the future.
The very fact that you are reading this write up is evidence that you are aware of the existence of such a condition in your little one. The only thing that can break through this barrier is your attention and love for him. Remember, your second child is as much your own as your first child, and is therefore, entitled to the exact amount of attention you give your first child. It may take a little time and effort, but dealing with the second child syndrome is something you must do, in order to prevent your little one from developing any emotional issues in the future.
By Puja Lalwani
Last Updated: 9/20/2011