Caught in the middle

Expert tips on how to make sure equal attention is paid to all of your kids

Q: I have three kids. The eight-year-old has autism and the youngest is just a year old. Because of the attention they require, I fear that my easygoing five-year-old son is getting overlooked and down the road he will have trouble. Am I right to be concerned?

A: You certainly have your hands full! It’s wise to be thinking about this potential issue, as middle children sometimes feel deprived of attention even when they don’t have a sibling with special needs. You can nurture your middle child’s attachment by spending regular one-on-one time with him, perhaps one special outing or activity each week. This will let him know that he is important to you. You can also help him develop a strong identity by encouraging him to discover his unique gifts and talents. For example, if he seems to be musically inclined, you might enrol him in an extracurricular music class.

All this being said, it is worth noting that not all middle children are troubled by their place in the family — many are outgoing, friendly, patient, flexible and diplomatic.