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Middle Child Syndrome? 15 Things Only Middle Children Will Understand

Middle Child Syndrome? 15 Things Only Middle Children Will Understand

On the big stage of life, we tend to NOT be the main act.  Are we happy to be the center of attention at the after party?  No, not that either.  We middle born are content to conduct the whole performance without accolades but with a sense of fulfillment that comes from a lifetime of patience and perseverance.  Known as the diplomats of birth order, we have the ability to approach others in a conciliatory manner and bring together successful outcomes without the angst of being the “needy baby” or the contentious firstborn.

1.  Middle of the pack?  We like it!

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    Forced by circumstance to wait behind an alpha child, then wait while the omega child caught up, we found our niche moving within a pack.  Our parents tended to let us excel at our own pace (no attention span left for us) and with that came the chance to actually understand what gave us the most satisfaction.  One successful middle who took of advantage of this and freely explored the world and his potential was none other than Theodore Roosevelt Middle trivia:  Of all the presidents since 1787, 52% have been middle children.

    2.  The good stuff is always in the middle.

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      All middles know that the juicy tidbits of life are buried within the crusty confines of family drama.  It’s that knowledge that allowed us to be eager recipients of older siblings’ rants (messy and valuable family details to be exploited later) as well as the soothing listener to the over-indulged baby (if the baby got something, then we all did just to be fair.)  Our siblings gave us the first taste of getting “something for nothing” in the way of information or product.  We learned at their sides that we didn’t have to be LOUD to be successful; we could quietly take advantage of a situation without threatening our own well-being.  One quiet but determined entrepreneur was very good at this!  Bill Gates

      3.  Middle Child Syndrome Misconceptions

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        Can’t we all just get along?  This phrase may be mostly what middle children are known for; media depictions of the oft neglected “other child” have helped to cement that status.  These CRAZY CHARACTERS aren’t indicative of real life success but add to the stereotype of what it means to be a middle child.  Although the lackluster middles may make the most noise about being ignored, etc., statistics prove they’re well prepared to be as successful or more so than their siblings.  READ MORE

        4.  Creative is our middle child name!

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          Who has time to be creative in today’s world?  Um, we middles have always had the advantage of time.  Whether we were stuck waiting with our parents for the older child’s activities to finish OR waiting around for the younger one to catch up, we were stuck!  All of that extra time honed our patience and also expanded our imagination.  Whether art, literature, or gaming, we got in a lot of time-filling practice.  Middle trivia:  Madonna, Julia Roberts, David Letterman are later born creatives.

          5.  Pressure points

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            Common sense dictates that if something is going to explode, it will go through the top and/or bottom.  And we learned this early on by watching the tribulations of our siblings.  The eldest was often held to an unrealistic expectation of success and when they fell short, kaboom!  The youngest was prone to playing “catch up” with the hindrance of age and inexperience catapulting them to failure…kaboom!  We middles are known to complain about never being noticed for our accomplishments but we enjoy our pressure free zone, failing or succeeding at our own pace.

            6.  Measuring Expectations of Middle Children

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              It’s happened to all of us later born children.  If we attend the same school as our older sibling(s) then their success or lack thereof is tied to our perception.  Teachers tend to remark early on about our differences and then we are exposed to that bias.  We have been put on notice that we will be be observed NOT for our contributions but how we compare to our sibling.  UNFAIR!  But that’s life and we middles learned to accept it early on.  Fortunately, scientific research has yet to prove a perceptible difference in IQ due to birth order.  At most, they think it may cause a 1 point reduction in IQ for each subsequent later born child.  And how do most middles respond to that?  Who cares.  The study was probably done by a first born anyway….

              7.  Births of a feather flock together.

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                Years of dealing with family dynamics, the highs and lows of birth order, we who are middle born tend to find ourselves later with others of the same mindset.  In fact, recent studies point to the fact that we are drawn to people who reflect our experiences and values.  Could that mean that our natural tendency to be conciliatory would lead us to more successful relationships than our brethren?  The jury is still out on that one but it doesn’t stop this ONLINE dating service from offering its advice to the lovelorn.

                8.  Can I add “middle” to my résume?

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                #workplace station MGD©

                  The workforce is finally recognizing our many talents!  We are a valuable commodity to employers and it’s time to make room on the job application for birth order.  With references like THESE, we should be able to occupy the corner office in record time!

                  9.  Forget the high ground, we rule Middle Earth!

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                    Since ALFRED ADLER introduced his birth order theories in 1928, siblings have been categorized according to an accident of  timing.  Middle borns have become stereotyped as the “sandwich” child, the diplomat, or the rebel.  For the most part, we have kept the peace (in true fashion) and not made much fuss about our lot in life.  Some even argue that we have SECRET POWERS and that in itself is a departure from our obscurity.

                    10.  Surprise!  We middle children don’t care that much.

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                      We are in the middle of making a living, forming relationships, educating ourselves and becoming productive world citizens.  One thing that we rarely do is FRET over our birth order.  It is interesting to see others relegate us to the forgotten category of family member.  Although it makes for good copy, middle borns aren’t out in droves protesting against our elder and younger siblings.  What we understand is that everyone can struggle to find where they belong in the grand scheme of things.  Our perspective is broad based and if that is because of our birth order, who cares?  We’re happy to share our good fortune.

                      11. Middle children don’t depend on an arbitrary number to get our point across.  Who needs 15 points when 11 will do just fine.

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                      Last Updated on January 15, 2021

                      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

                      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

                      The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

                      Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

                      Posture

                      First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

                      • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
                      • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
                      • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
                      • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

                      All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

                      Facial Expressions

                      Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

                      • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
                      • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
                      • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

                      If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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                      1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

                      A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

                      The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

                      This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

                      2. Relax Your Face

                      New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

                      The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

                      To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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                      3. Improve Your Eye Contact

                      Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

                      The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

                      To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

                      3. Smile More

                      There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

                      Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

                      4. Hand Gestures

                      Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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                      It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

                      5. Enhance Your Handshake

                      In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

                      “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

                      It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

                      6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

                      As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

                      Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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                      Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

                      Final Takeaways

                      Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

                      If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

                      More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

                      Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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