So, I have three children, Travis, 7; Ethan, 4; Logan, 2. As the oldest, Travis is very independent and responsible. He knows what he likes and doesn’t like; he’s also autistic. If you can imagine, that sometimes comes with a lot of challenges, which requires a lot of time and attention. Logan is the baby girl. She’s the youngest and the only girl; she’s also full of personality, so of course she’s the center of attention. Then, there’s my middle man Ethan! He’s so chill, sweet, and sensitive and a true definition of middle child, if there is such a thing.
Ethan looks up to his big brother, so much so, that it has been difficult for Ethan to find his own identity. He wants everything Travis wants. Now, Travis is an amazing brother, but unfortunately, because of autism, his behaviors hasn’t always been the best example for him. Travis didn’t talk much during his very early years and his vocabulary was limited. Ethan watches everything Travis does and literally repeats everything Travis says. . .I mean everything. It’s weird but also interesting to watch. Travis will say something, anything, and Ethan will repeat him word for word to his best ability. And, Travis doesn’t even acknowledge that Ethan is repeating him. It’s like that’s what he’s supposed to do. Ethan hasn’t been around other kids much besides his siblings, because he never attended daycare or preschool until this school year, so when he was learning to talk, his best example of speech and language was his brother, who was still developing his own language skills, and although Travis is a chatty Charlie now, Ethan is still just learning how to express himself with words.
I remember when I was pregnant with Logan; I was so sad for Ethan because I knew he would have the middle child syndrome. I tried so hard to give him all the attention I could before baby Logan arrived. I knew being a middle child would be difficult for him, because he was already so quiet and just followed behind his brother. Now, he wants to be as independent as his big brother, but he also wants to be babied like his baby sister. If I or my husband are playing with Logan, he’s right behind screaming “My turn!” But, at the same time, he’s trying his best to do everything that Travis is doing.
Last week, he was so sad that the tablet needed to be charged, so I asked him if he needed a hug. Now, Ms. Logan does not like it when her brothers get attention, especially Ethan, so when I stretched out my arms to give Ethan a hug, she jumped right into my lap, laid her head on my chest and gave Ethan a little smirk (like ha ha this is my Mommy). Ethan was so mad! I told him I could love on them both, but he wasn’t having it. He pointed to her to move, but she wasn’t budging. They then went into a kissing war fighting over who would get the last kiss with Mommy. It was funny, and we all laughed, but I knew Ethan really wanted to have his own moment with me.
So, let’s talk. Does your middle child have the syndrome? Are they often fighting for attention or still trying to figure out their own identity? How do you help them through this?
Ethan is absolutely my personality twin because he’s very quiet and sensitive. He has a tough time speaking up, and he’s so shy around other kids. Often times he’s overshadowed by his brother and sister, and not just because Travis is autistic and Logan is the baby, but because they talk A LOT, and go after the attention they want. They bug the hell out of me all day long, and Ethan will just stand there with the sad, pouty face, because I can’t read his mind.
However, I am deliberate in helping him to overcome this syndrome by spending one-on-one time with him so that he knows I love him and that he is important. I require him to use his words instead of his pouty face, and I use different techniques to help him expand his vocabulary. I encourage him to talk and play with friends while we’re waiting for school to start, so that he can become more social and develop friendships. I buy him different toys than I buy his brother that peaks his interests and help him to find his own identity. Most importantly, I love on him as much as I can, because I never want him to feel neglected, unloved, or forgotten about.