Second child syndrome… is it an actual thing?

Once upon a time we would have described our first daughter as lively, feisty, bold, cheeky, adventurous…all those adjectives you associate with a little firecracker kid. And we really believed she was all of those things. That is until we met her little sister, who showed us exactly what those definitions REALLY meant.

In actual fact, in comparison, our first born was relatively calm, well behaved, a textbook sleeper, with a great appetite, who never left my side.

I honestly don’t know if there is anything in the phrase ‘second child syndrome’, but it’s something I hear bandied around the playground, the toddler group and all my other exciting hangouts as so many of us with a child at reception age have a little sibling in tow. I say in tow, I mean running off in the distance.

There are of course exceptions to the rule. I’m thinking hard and I can pinpoint maybe two, three families I know where the eldest takes the title for ‘craziest kid’, but in general, it’s those second babies who are running rings around their parents.

It’s not even about being naughty – the second child is often well equipt with an attitude, an air of confidence and a wisdom ‘beyond their years’ to almost equal their role model siblings who are showing them the ropes daily.

So why is that?

Maybe it’s us, Mum / Dad / Mum & Dad / any other combination of the former who just have chilled into the whole parenthood thing. Less of the fussing around the tot, ready to catch them at every fall…it’s more of a wave from the distance ‘they’re alright’ approach to life. After all, we hear it so often don’t we – that the second child just has to fit in.

I mean, for one there just isn’t the time second time around to be so ‘on it’ with every single thing. I remember not wanting to turn off the bedroom light until I could see our first born was asleep…needless to say second time around I was snoring before my head even hit the pillow – let alone  hers.

It’s easy to feel bad about this more relaxed approach to caring for the kids, but maybe it’s a path to a easy going human being? Or maybe that’s all waffle and we are overthinking the whole thing. After all, I am a second baby, and I wouldn’t describe myself as laid back! Maybe I should ask my Mum what life was like for me and a second tot…

Then, so many second children go on to become middle children – and that apparently is a thing too? I don’t know about all these labels. I only know the evidence before me.

I love my youngest daughters approach to life. Okay, she won’t put on her clothes. Or her shoes. She’s not keen on holding my hand, and I could spend all day in the porch shouting “fine, we will go without you”. But I couldn’t be prouder of the twinkle in her eye, her zest for life and her fierce personality which towers high above her tiny frame.

She may drive me crazy with her ability to turn down the finest of home cooked meals, but I truly hope she retains that sense of knowing her mind and applies it boldly in her future.

Whilst I might be apologising to the mum of the four year old boy she just pushed off the slide, I’m quietly amazed and proud of her fearless attitude. I love to imagine her in the future, sticking up for her rights, and never being bossed around by any man that may dare cross her path.

Her admiration for her sister is clear, as she longs to play in her room, snuggle in her bed, and steal her toys. The pair of them are thick as thieves and maybe every little brother or sister grows up with their sibling as their first idol. With them around to learn from, grab age inappropriate toys from, and stand alongside in unity, what chance do we have? (Although here’s hoping the learning to use the toilet part has truly sunk in come the summer).

As she throws her nursery rucksack over her shoulders, and seems to challenge the laws of gravity, her swagger into her new environment lets everyone know she has arrived. Long may that self confidence last, and far may it take her.

And as she sheds a little tear as we wave goodbye, she reminds us that she too has a soft side. She of course needs nurturing and cuddles like the rest of us. Now there is one thing the girls have in common…the love of a massive cuddle.

We really wouldn’t have either of them any other way.


So what about your family? Second child running rings around you? Or do you have the opposite in your home…let’s find out what the stats are! Leave a comment below, I’d love to know…


My Petit Canard
Share Button
(Visited 676 times, 1 visits today)

36 thoughts on “Second child syndrome… is it an actual thing?

  1. Amanda Blackburn Reply

    Fab post with great pictures too! I am the younger sister and I would definitely agree with second child syndrome. I have to say though there must be so many syndromes for everything. I have 3 children and my middle child finds things tough being in the middle and my older hates to be the oldest and has always felt pushed out. Is tough being a parent and a child, so many life lessons that we are always having to learn!

  2. Miraculous Mums Reply

    I loved this post. We are suffering from second child syndrome in our home….but with our dog! 😀 Genuinely…he is quite emotionally needy and since having a baby there just isn’t time for the types of attention we used to dish out. Mom guilt has taken on a whole new meaning. #marvmondays

  3. Lucy grace Reply

    I’m the second of two daughters and defonitely have a more laid back approach/fiesty attitude and slightly higher self confidence than my sister. But there’s 8 years between us, different dads and my mother was 30 when she had me and admits she was far less nervous about being Mum. I’m due to have our second boy in march and am intrigued to see the differences between him and his older brother who will be nearly 2 by then. Our eldest is laid back, cheerful, confident and gently natured. I have been so lucky! I silently hope baby 2 will have the same qualities but of course they are all individuals. We will love them both the same regardless and variety is the spice of life right?! #marvmondays

  4. themuddledmother Reply

    I love this. My second Mr T is a right little whirlwind compared to his sister and i’m sure he’ll turn me grey in no time #marvmondays

  5. Jessicah Reply

    I hope not. My eldest is 21 months and such a handful.. her sister is obly 4months.. please don’t be so boisterous please

  6. bobsy's mum (@stressed_mummy_) Reply

    So far my oldest is the crazy child. But second child is only 15 months, and first is 6. So it could all change yet #coolmumclub

  7. franbackwithabump Reply

    Poppy’s not one yet so its hard to know how she’ll develop. Her sister can be the biggest pain inthe arse so I’m hoping with having an 8 year head start we’ll get it nailed with her. Thanks for hosting #coolmumclub

  8. beautybabyandme Reply

    Cuddles are everything! This is a lovely post and gave me a lot to think about considering we are thinking about baby number two! I love that she has this fierceness in her – she’ll keep you on your toes! Lovely post hun xx #coolmumclub

  9. and Jacob makes three Reply

    I only have one child, but it’s definitely a ‘thing’ with me and my brother. He used to run rings around my poor mum! If we ever have another child I’d be interested to see if it’s the same for us. I can’t imagine a more spirited child than we have now, so that will be interesting! #coolmumclub

  10. Nicola wiggins Reply

    Such a great post! Love this! I have two and I can see what you mean! #coolmumclub

  11. Naptime Natter Wendy Reply

    Aww I love this, your little one shares lots of personality traits with my 3 year old..he is a feisty independent child. I’m not sure about the whole second child thing as mine is just 3 months old, I can already tell he simply adores his big brother though and is definitely going to be trying to copy his every move once he’s old enough xx #coolmumclub

  12. Mum in Brum Reply

    Well…let’s just say that I REALLY hope that our second child isn’t any crazier than Taylor – I don’t think I’d cope! You’re little one sounds just like her, especially pushing boys off the slide and her swagger. I’ll let you know in another six months 😉 Great post xx #coolmumclub

  13. motherhoodtherealdeal Reply

    I only have one child so hard to comment on this hon but most of my friends who have a second child…well they definitely seem to have a lot more sass! But then how do they go into the no mans land of the middle child if there is then a third. Answers on a postcard! Lots of #coolmumclub love xoxo

  14. Autumn's Mummy Reply

    Out of my brother and I this is definitely true. My baby is so laid back, I’m sure if we had another one this would be true! Thinking about friends who have siblings, this is true of them too – there’s definitely something to it! #CoolMumClub

  15. kerry Reply

    Love this! if its not a thing then it needs to be because its spot on, my second child is a girl and she is crazy!! with my first I didn’t need stair gates, he didn’t put anything to his mouth, and he didn’t climb! My little girl (14 months) needs a gate on top of another gate as she climbs them!! puts EVERYTHING in her mouth and jumps of the sofa and anything else she can!!


  16. Ursula (AKA Mumbelievable) Reply

    It has always fascinated me that the labels given to each child according to the order in which they were born are usually pretty spot on. It’s so interesting to see them develop and I guess that having her older sister has to have something to do with her confidence and brilliant attitude. She sounds like an utterly awesome human being – one we could learn so much from. At the moment I’m a mum of one, but who knows what the future holds? Great post as always lovely. #Coolmumclub xxx

  17. tinmccarthy Reply

    Ours were the complete opposite- in fact the middle child was so easy that we went for another…and twins came!


  18. The Greenwich Mummy Reply

    My little girl definitely has second child syndrome. She is the complete opposite of my first born – she’s loud, extremely confident (at 9 months) and pretty much a diva… very demanding! My little boy even gets a little bullied by her sometimes as he knows she’s only a baby so has to make a lot more compromises for her.. bless his heart! They are lovely and I’m kind of glad she’s very tenacious and assertive. At least I can be sure she won’t be a pushover. 🙂 #coolmumclub

  19. Lindsay Reply

    Second child zone here! I have in the past politely described my second as a raving hellbeast. It’s not far from the truth but I do love him so. Makes the first look like an absolute ANGEL! Thanks for having me back at #coolmumclub

  20. Jo Reply

    Our second born is bonkers compared to our eldest, and compared to our youngest, who is confident but slightly calmer than our now middle child. I wouldn’t have them any other way though and both our eldest and youngest really feed off the energy and enthusiasm for life that our middle son has 🙂

  21. Winnettes Reply

    Oh yes! Second child syndrome is totally a real thing! My second is so confident and has an attitude that rivals my own! I always wonder if she would be different if she was the eldest.

  22. familylifeandme Reply

    I really love this post! I completely feel that there is a second child syndrome. Dylan definitely has it and like you say, it’s not them being naughty it’s about being fearless etc but I do believe it’s because we, as parents, are a lot more laid back the second time round! Lovely pictures by the way xx #coolmumclub

  23. Savings 4 Savvy Mums Reply

    Yes yes yes!! My second is a crazy child!! I also thought the first was insane but nothing compared to this cheeky money!! #coolmumclub

  24. thetaleofmummyhood Reply

    Our second child has been running rings around us from day one! We wouldn’t have her any other way though!


  25. New Mummy Blog Reply

    Hahaha you might have just described my sister and I!! Thanks for the heads up and really for knowing what I’m in for… I did suspect quite a few (I’m not telling hubby though!) #coolmumclub

  26. Reply

    Aww bless her. I have a feeling as my yougnest grows this will be the same in our house! x #coolmumclub

  27. mommyandrory Reply

    My MIL swears that if she would have had my OH brother first she would have never had anymore kids. If we have anymore we’re destined to suffer from the dreaded second child syndrome. Rory is such a good baby, he may be a little fussy with his food but he slept through from been about 3 months old. I think our safer option is to stick with one! #coolmumclub

  28. Rice Cakes and Raisins Reply

    My second born is so different to the first as well. I definitely think I’m more relaxed than I was first time round #coolmumclub

  29. Alana - Burnished Chaos Reply

    Second child syndrome is definitely evident in our house. My first was such an easy child, quite and gentle, so polite and well mannered, we could take him anywhere and never worry about his behaviour (although we had a hard time when he started school as he hated it and cried every day for two years!). He’s always been strong willed though and at the time we thought he became quite naughty around 2 and then really naughty once school started, possibly acting out with all the changes as that’s when I became pregnant with no 2. Our daughter has been the complete opposite in every way and we dread taking her anywhere. Now we know what naughty really is. She’s loud, she’s boisterous, she can’t sit still still for more than 5 seconds, she will scream in another kids face if they happen to be in her way or dare to take something off her and she will push another kid
    over whether they are 1 or 7 (she’s 2). To say she’s a handful would be an understatement. That being said, she is incredibly caring and when you explain she may have hurt or scared another child she will immediately go and say sorry and give them a cuddle, and she is so outgoing and funny she wins over everyone. As hard as she can be to parent, I love her feistiness too and think it will serve her well x

  30. Helena Reply

    My two are not old enough to run rings around me yet. It’s a waiting game to see for us. #coolmumclub

  31. tammymum Reply

    Hmm I do think there is something in his. I totally thought my first was feisty and confident etc until I met her brother. He well and truly takes the crown. He is louder, bolder, and definitely has more attitude and he isn’t even two yet. God help me. I wouldn’t have him any other way though, most of the time ha. #coolmumclub x

  32. crummymummy1 Reply

    The dynamics are the same with our two too – Little B is definitely the craziest. Goodness only knows what will happen when number three arrives… #coolmumclub

  33. Double the Monkey Business Reply

    Really interesting read! I am an only child and my boys are twins, so had no experience of second child syndrome 🙂 #coolmumclub

  34. Anri Adachi Reply

    There’s DEFINITELY something to the ‘second child’ thing. I personally have found it quite tricky to come to terms with how different my parenting has to be! Hope you don’t mind me giving you a link to my blogpost from today which explores exactly this issue!

  35. […] Second child syndrome – is it an actual thing? […]...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.