The Effects of Other Child Syndrome

Monday, April 7, 2014 @ 1:33 PM

The other child syndrome is a very real problem for people who have two or more children.  Children are often the victim of birth order, and that is exactly where the other child syndrome comes into play. This is the time where the second child feels ignored and unimportant.

The problem with the other child syndrome is that no matter how hard a parent tries, it is difficult to be awed by all those little first times again, when they have already gone through everything before. They can’t help it!  They have already seen a child burp for the first time, and walk for the first time, etc. so those little things well…… let’s face it! They are just not the same.

Results of the Other Child Syndrome

  • The other child syndrome results from less attention from parents. The other child often requires less attention, which they have been conditioned by having less attention over a period of time. They may become reclusive, because they do not feel like it is important for them to have attention. If their family does not care to give them attention, why would anyone else?
  • The other child syndrome also results in a faster disconnect from parents. Basically, the child does not get the attention from parents that the first child recieved. So, they become independent much quicker. They find ways to self soothe, and learn to rely on themselves rather than with a parent. Often the child suffering from the other child syndrome will need a lot of extra attention and love. The tricky thing is that they don’t want it. Or at least they think they don’t. As a parent tries to correct the mistakes they made that lead to an other child syndrome, they often meet resistance and frustration for the child. Their second child will often use phrases like, “I hate you.” Or “Leave me alone.” The important thing is for the parent to keep trying.
  • The other child syndrome often comes from being compared to the other child or children in the family. If a parent wants their child to not suffer the often self-confidence shattering problems that come with the other child syndrome, they need to be sure that they do not fuel sibling rivalry, or resentment between siblings. While some healthy competition between siblings is important, parents need to ensure that they are helping their second child feel as important as the other child.
  • Give your second child no option other than to feel loved and secure. The way you do this is show them more and more attention, and give them every reason to realize they are important. Don’t stop showing it, and they will eventually start believing it.
  • The other child syndrome often leads to the child being less ambitious. They often see their older sibling being successful and doing well in life, and because of that, they do not think they can ever live up to the same. So, instead of trying, they never try, and as a result become the proverbial under-achiever.

There are some doctors or psychologists that believe that birth order plays a part in the kind of personality each child has.

The following are some of the second child characteristics or traits exhibited because of birth order: 

  • Attention-Seeking One of the important things to know is that often the second child has to seek out attention. Parents do not find it as easy to be excited about, or show attention to the second child when they have already been through all of the stuff with their first child. This does not mean that the parent does not love their child, but often the child feels somewhat neglected. In addition, they may use this to their advantage to manipulate their parents, and get what they want.
  • Second children often do things to get attention. However, as part of their frustration they may act out and pretend that they do not want attention or love, when they actually desperately do.
  • They Act Out When someone has other child syndrome, they typically act out all the time. It only gets worse if the parent reprimands them constantly. So, a better solution would be to not allow it, but not chew them out for it either. 
  • Sibling Rivalry Another aspect of the other child syndrome is intense sibling rivalry. Second children often find themselves being compared to their older sibling, which results in them always feeling somewhat inferior. This in turns tends to make them highly competitive, and a rivalry is typically born. If you want to avoid this part of the other child syndrome as a parent, you have to be very careful to never utter the words, “Why can’t you be like…” They won’t appreciate the comparison, and it won’t do anything for their personality, disposition, relationship with you, or esteem. And, usually it results in them doing the opposite behavior, just to get a rise out of you.
  • A Negative Attitude The other child syndrome is often accompanied with a negative attitude, anger, sarcasm, etc. from the child. This is not a good thing, and can often bring out the worst in parents. However, these are usually defense mechanisms to help them protect themselves from their rampant insecurities about not being as loves as the other, or oldest child. One of the best things you can do is be patient with these attitudes, and continually reassure them that they are loved.
  • Lack of Motivation The other child syndrome may result in a child who does not have a lot of motivation in life. They may be somewhat lazy when it comes to ambition. A lot of this stems from the belief that their efforts will be wasted, as no one will notice them, or care anyway, or that they are going to be letting the parent down regardless for not being exactly like the first child.

The best thing a parent can do for their second child to avoid problems with this is to simply make a real effort to give equal love and attention, and never make comparisons.


Breaking the Links

Mark O' Reilly