What is Only Child Syndrome – Myth or Reality ?
Were you considered spoiled or selfish just because you were an only child? Or just because someone was not getting along with the group dynamics, did you consider them the only child? Or have you heard someone advising about having more than one kid so the kid won’t be lonely? There are some preconceived notions like these about only children, also known as “onlies.” Let us check whether these notions attached to only children are true.
What is Only Child Syndrome?
Only Child Syndrome explains the behavior of children who grew up without siblings. This syndrome generally focuses on negative traits displayed by these children. How one behaves from childhood to adulthood and deals with various relationships depends largely on the environment in which one grows up.
Our family lays this foundation. So, in a family where a child was brought up without siblings, it is assumed that this situation is unfavorable for the kid’s psychological and emotional development.
Some of these assumptions are true. It is observed that only children are not as altruistic as children having siblings, meaning only children will put their needs before others and would not usually care about other’s needs. They have always received their parent’s unswerving attention, and sharing is somewhat alien to them.
So, when it comes to sharing, they face trouble being in a group. They are mostly introverted as they don’t have siblings to interact with or have limited interaction with their parents.
Characteristics of Only Child Syndrome:
Some prominent characteristics have been observed in only children. Again, these might not apply to all onlies, but most exhibit this behavior and hence these characteristics.
1. Less social:
Growing up with siblings significantly impacts one’s psychological development. With a sibling, you learn how to share and care. If you look at children with siblings in their growing stage, you will notice that they are more involved in social activities than onlies.
They did not have a sibling or, say a companion during their childhood, so they become self-reliant and are fine with less interaction. They find it hard to interact with new people or people in general. This leads to having fewer friends, or one can say they have a tiny and close-knit friend circle.
Generally, it is noticed that firstborns are inclined to be more ambitious. But only the ones who can be more ambitious than them. Credit goes to their parent’s attention and praise that they receive for their achievements.
Single children are observed to be emotionally stable as they get complete affection from their parents. As they enter adulthood, these qualities may change. These traits diversify from person to person as they take different routes in life’s journey. In this journey, their equation with their parents evolves and changes. They might experience fear as they need to fulfill their parents’ expectations. They may get overwhelmed with the attention received from their parents.
Only children spend their growing years without a companion in the form of a sibling, so they acquire the skill of being on their own and are comfortable spending time without any company. They are independent and do not require anyone else to entertain them. They are more confident than children with siblings.
5. Advanced IQ:
As discussed above, single children socialize poorly. They prefer to engage in other activities over socializing. They spend more time with themselves and invest their time in learning, which, in turn, increases their IQ.
6. Extreme personality:
Single children tend to be on the extremes regarding personality. They can be completely introverted as they do not have any siblings to connect and communicate with since childhood. Or, they can be complete extroverts as they want to make friends to fill the void of a sibling.
As there was no competition from any sibling, all the focus and expectation was on one person. They have better opportunities as their parent’s resources are not divided. Because of this, they might feel pressured to fulfill all the hopes and expectations of their parents in all spheres of life. It can be in academics, career, or life in general.
How does being a single child affect one’s mental health?
Single children tend to be more sensitive than children having siblings. They have limited interaction with the outer world beyond their parents. They cannot take up friendly teasing from other children as they are not used to it. It makes it hard for them to take feedback or criticism in adult life, even if it is for their betterment.
They receive all the attention and affection from their parents and other family members as they are the only child. This overindulgence may spoil them. They are not used to sharing stuff regularly.
Hence, they develop a trait of selfishness. They often experience loneliness or isolation due to lacking a companion to share feelings. They are also considered bossy as they always get what they ask for at home. Single children exhibit all these traits and may not always work in their favor.
What can one do to help?
Parents are the only people single children connect with the most. Parents of single children should encourage their children to interact with people outside the home. Parents are always there for their children, but sometimes they need someone their age to talk to and express their feelings. While children interact with each other and end up in a conflict or clash of thoughts, parents should not interfere in that conversation and take their child’s side.
They should let the kids stand up for themselves, decide, and sort things themselves. At home, they are the most pampered and center of attention of the entire family; the least they can do outside the home is to set their child-free. It will help the child develop decision-making skills. It will also hinder the bossy attitude that comes with being a single child in the house.
One should not overindulge in a child. Pampering, loving, and showing affection are all good, but parents and family members should keep these in check; otherwise, this will spoil the kid.
At last, let the kid live. Parents should not put all their expectations on the kids and burden them with this. In the long term, that same kid might become anxious, or worse depressed, because of carrying all these expectations. Therefore, always pay attention to their behavior as it will help handle the child struggling with only-child syndrome.
In this blog, we have learned about the only-child syndrome and its characteristics. Children with only-child syndrome are arrogant and selfish because of the unconditional love of their parents. However, it can be changed if the children’s surroundings are changed and parents take care of the upbringing of their children.
Also, parents should not expect much from their children as it will unnecessarily burden them. We hope you get the full insight of the only child and draw in this blog. Let us know your views in the comment section below.