How Being The Middle Child Can Affect Attachment Style

If a middle child really does experience less attention from their parents compared to their siblings, the two most common insecure attachment styles they might adopt are anxious attachment or avoidant attachment, Leeds says.

Parents with three or more children are often juggling the needs of each kid, while also dealing with other daily responsibilities. This can make it difficult to dole out care fairly, Leeds explains. Of course, the middle child is not always neglected or overlooked. “Some parents may be able to attune well to their middle kid but are not able to do so consistently because of the competing needs of their youngest and oldest,” she says. 

Not being able to predict whether a parent will be loving and present or emotionally unavailable can be confusing for a child and is usually a precursor to anxious attachment style. “This leaves a child not knowing what to expect and hungry for attention and connection,” clinical psychologist Bobbi Wegner, Psy.D., writes in her upcoming book Raising Feminist Boys. This insecurity and lack of trust may cause them to become possessive, overly dependent, and clingy toward their partner.

On the other hand, if the parent is more consistently inattentive, the child would be more likely to develop avoidant attachment style, Leeds says. When people with avoidant attachment grow up, they often become extremely self-reliant and uncomfortable when relationships become too serious.

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