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…


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