Second child syndrome is a set of characteristics, behaviors, or traits that are often exhibited in second children due to birth order. While not every second child exhibits these traits, many are very common. Parents should be aware of the dangers and obstacles of second child syndrome, so that they can help their child avoid the negative aspects of being a second child in a family.
Some of the behaviors and characteristics are listed below, as well as some helpful tips for parents when it comes to helping their child avoid these issues:
- Second children often do things to gain attention. They will throw tantrums, say lewd, crude, or inappropriate things, or just act in ways that are not consistently considered appropriate behavior. This is usually done in an attempt to gain attention by their parent or other authority figures. It sort of goes along with the idea that any attention is better than no attention.
- Second children often shun affection despite a secret longing for it. Many times a second child will feel like they are not afforded the same amount of love and affection of the other children in the family. As a result, they will put up walls around themselves, and when a parent tries to break through those through physical affection, they often reject the attempt. However, it is important to note that they typically secretly want the affection and attention.
- Second children will often get in trouble, show attitude, be defiant, etc. This is consistent with the attention seeking, but it is also because they are unsure of who they are, and are insecure, so they act out to protect themselves from their insecurities.
- Second children will usually resent or have severe sibling rivalries, specifically with their older sibling. This is typically in an attempt to feel better about themselves, or prove to themselves that just because another sibling gets more attention doesn’t make them better.
- A second child may be a bit of a loner, have relationship, authority, and commitment phobias. This all stems back to the insecurities that arise when a parent gives a first child more attention, which is a common occurrence.
Additionally, many second children are not ambitious by nature. They have found that in the past their efforts or achievements were always overshadowed by their older sibling, or ignored, so they often lose the desire to try. Of course, this is not always the case. In some instances, they work so hard to prove themselves because they have been slightly ignored all of their lives, and end up being extremely successful as a result.