Second Child Syndrome

The second child syndrome refers to certain characteristic behavioral traits that are developed by a second-born child, as a result of the parents' attitude towards them. Understand the implications of the second child syndrome, here.
When you became aware of your first pregnancy, you probably were exuberant and did everything right from avoiding caffeine, to taking your vitamins at the right time, to going for yoga classes regularly. Then your child came into this world, and every moment was captured on camera, right from the time she opened her eyes, to the time she first held your finger in her hand, when she first tried to stand, then walk, her first day at school, so on and so forth.

Then came the news of your second pregnancy. Happy you were, but not exuberant. You forgot to avoid the caffeine, and forgot to take a dose of your multivitamins. You skipped a couple of yoga classes too. When he came into the world, you managed to click a couple of his photographs, but every first of his was not as joyful and exciting as your first child's. Are you confused by your own behavior? Are you putting your child at the risk of the second child syndrome? Find out here.

About the Syndrome

According to 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 evident 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.

Signs to Look Out for

Because you can't seem to show the same excitement about your second child, as you do with your first-born, he is likely to develop certain 'second child traits' so that your attention will be drawn towards them.
  • He may not respond to your bout of affection as a way of probably making you feel guilty about not giving him enough time. However, don't let this demotivate you. He wants it much more than you could imagine.
  • He is likely to do things that get him into trouble, simply as a way of seeking attention from you. Don't allow it all the time, but don't constantly reprimand him 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 may face a negative attitude, a lot of sarcasm, and persistent anger from him. However, maintain your patience in such situations. These are walls he has built around himself that you can break through only over time with lots of love and affection.
  • Because of the ignorance he 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.
  • The second child may 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.
Please keep in mind that not every second child may behave in the aforementioned manner; but if your second child has been neglected, or feels neglected, he may develop these traits.

Positives of Being the Second Child

While you may be feeling guilty about all the negatives that this syndrome comes with, you will be happy to know that there is a bright side to look at too. When your second child arrives, you are better-equipped to take care of him, and you are sure that the little cough that he has is not as dangerous as you thought it was when it happened to your first child. Essentially, you become a less fussy parent. Because of this trait, second-borns are usually calmer babies and grow up to be independent because parents don't fuss over them as much, and because they have been given the space to learn on their own without being smothered continuously. The been-there-done-that situation works in your favor as you aren't as paranoid as you were earlier.

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. 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.

On the other hand, if you fear that your second child may feel neglected as he grows up and may develop this syndrome, understand that when you decide to have a second child, your time is going to be divided between both your kids. It is natural for your first-born to have got all your attention because she was the only child around. Now, with a second one, you are bound to pay equal attention to both, and obviously, this time it is going to be lesser than the amount you gave your first-born. Avoid feeling guilty about it; rather try to figure out how you can manage your time so that your little one gets enough love and attention from you, and so that you can prevent the development of this syndrome.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only and does not, in any way, intend to replace the advice of an expert.