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The Advantages of Growing Up in the Middle

Authors Catherine Salmon and Katrin Schuman take a new stance on middle children, those who often get lost in the family mix, in their new book The Secret Power of Middle Children: How Middleborns Can Harness Their Unexpected and Remarkable Abilities. Though older and younger siblings are sometimes perceived as outshining middle-borns, there are quite a few advantages to being stuck in the middle. The lack of the intense parental scrutiny that other children in the family may receive frees middle children to explore their own path.

“There are some hidden benefits to not focusing so much attention and concern and effort, and putting so much pressure on each child. And that is one of the hidden benefits that middle children get because they do have this sense of independence and they think outside the box a little bit more. And they’re not afraid to look to their peers rather than always look above them to those higher in the hierarchy than they are, which means that they end up being quite open-minded,” explains Schumann in an interview with NPR‘s Talk of the Nation.

“…[T]hey often get very good at negotiating, figuring out what the other person wants and needs, and then managing to get them what they want and what the middle child themselves want at the same time. And, of course, one of the things that middle children often want is peace and calm and quiet and for everybody to get along. And so those traits then serve them well when they leave the family and go on to form their own families, and in the workplace,” continues Salmon, who currently works as an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Redlands.

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