“Your kid is spoiled”; “Your little one seems selfish”; “Poor little kid, he will grow up lonely!” If you are a mother of an only-child, you have definitely heard the same mantra over and over again. And of course, you have been told that your one and only has “only-child syndrome” just because he is siblingless. But does raising an only-child really ring alarm bells?
What is Only-Child Syndrome?
Ever since the 1800s, “only-child syndrome” came to light, labeling an only-child as spoiled, selfish, egocentric, demanding, and antisocial. In fact, G. Stanley Hall, a child psychologist, went so far as to claim that being an only-child is a disease itself.
What are the characteristics of only-child syndrome?
Unfortunately, the “onlies” are associated with an alarming list of negative behavioral traits. Rumor has it that only-children are:
- Spoiled little creatures as they are used to getting whatever they want from their parents, anytime, anywhere! In fact, “no” doesn’t exist in their dictionaries. Not to mention the undivided love and attention that they are showered with by their parents and grandparents.
- Extremely selfish and self-centered especially since they are not used to sharing toys, clothes, or food with siblings.
- “Loners” who will eventually struggle to manage relationships with others blame it on the lack of interaction and playing with siblings. It is also believed that only-children will grow up to be introverts since they are accustomed to spending their time alone most of the time.
- Oversensitive especially to criticism since they are not familiar with the quirks of having a sibling, including teasing, fighting, and pointing fingers. Even as they grow up, they will find it difficult to accept criticism from a colleague or friend, thanks to their thin-skinned personality.
But is this really true?
Let’s face it, we have all seen a spoiled, selfish, and anti-social kid who has siblings. Right? In fact, having a sibling or not has little to do with the traits of the person. We can’t deny that it is nice to have a sibling to lean on and learn from, but many factors shape the behavior and personality of a child such as parenting style and practices, social experiences, and genetics.
Despite the stigma of an “only-child” that has lingered for some time, recent studies show that “onlies” can develop many positive traits. For example, only-children tend to be overachievers since they receive a lot of praise from their parents, and parents often expect “too much” from them. Moreover, being siblingless create an independent personality due to the fact that there is no other child to lean on. In addition, “onlies” are considered to be wiser beyond their years, since they spend most of their time with adults than kids. Furthermore, studies have shown that only-children have a strong bond with their parents.
Yes, only-children will receive undivided love, care, and attention, but this doesn’t mean that they will be spoiled. Actually, this extra love can boost their self-esteem and help them avoid attachments. Moreover, not having siblings doesn’t necessarily mean that your child will grow up to be a loner, and antisocial. You can always enroll him in extracurricular activities and sports, or encourage playdates and sleepovers!
Hence, if you are a mom of one or planning to be, don’t let this stereotyping scare you! And always remember that you can raise a well-rounded child regardless of the number of siblings.