What impact do our brothers and sisters have on us growing up?
Family is undeniably a big part of what shapes the people we become.
So what if you are an only child?
There may well be some telltale signs!
Here are some behaviors that might just give the game away…
1) They like to get their own way
I mean, who doesn’t, right?!
But when we grow up with brothers and sisters, we learn from a young age that we don’t always get what we want.
We must compete and compromise.
And that means, we have to accept that other people’s preferences will win out over our own sometimes.
It’s not to say we don’t mind, but at least we come to understand it’s a natural fact of life.
But only children were perhaps less likely to have learned this harsh lesson early on.
When there are only the needs and wants of one child to consider, there is no competition.
The potential downside to that is an occasionally spoiled or bossy approach to getting your own way.
2) They’re an overachiever and tend to excel
It stands to reason:
The more kids you have, the more your time, attention, and resources are stretched as a parent.
So, if you are an only child, you get to enjoy all of the limelight.
Your folks may have also pushed you harder or expected more. They may have showered you with more praise and encouragement.
This can fuel ambition.
There is certainly strong evidence to suggest that only children outperform their peers at school.
It’s also thought that thanks to being the sole parental focus, only children are more extroverted.
These elements give an only child an edge which they can use to get further ahead in life.
Research has noted that only children are highly motivated when it comes to achievement and reaching goals.
3) They’re super independent and self-sufficient
You’re unlikely to meet many needy only children.
They’ve had to get on with things solo. They are often required to entertain themselves.
One research study noted that only children seem to have less need for affiliation.
It’s thought that could be down to the fact they suffer less affection deprivation growing up. On top of that, they also have a more trusting style of interaction.
Either way, it seems that only children are good at standing on their own two feet.
Despite stereotypical claims that they may suffer more from loneliness, the evidence doesn’t actually suggest this.
That same study noted that “the popular conception of only children as selfish, lonely, or maladjusted is not supported by the small amount of relevant research.”
4) They can be a bit anti-social at times
Only children may not suffer more from loneliness. But connection might not always feel as easy to them.
Having brothers and sisters teaches us to be around our peers from a young age. And that’s good social training.
If you are used to spending a lot of time alone, you might feel more uncomfortable in social settings.
That’s not the same as being introverted.
Rather than simply prefering their own company, some only children may feel awkward socializing.
So they may shy away from it.
Research has found that adults who didn’t have siblings growing up had fewer social activities than those who did.
They also had a tendency to participate differently in sports and school-related activities.
5) They can be very sensitive to feedback
Growing up around siblings can mean you are forced to grow a thicker skin.
We all know that kids can be lacking in tact, to say the least. So they’re more likely to blurt out a wide range of indelicate comments.
Namecalling, teasing, or downright bullying — children exposed to brothers and sisters are well used to this.
But only children may have been sheltered slightly.
So when they reach adulthood, they may struggle to handle criticism of any type.
They may be accused of being overly sensitive to receiving feedback.
6) They hate to share
I wouldn’t advise grabbing a French fry from their plate.
They are bound to explain that you should have ordered some yourself if you wanted fries.
For plenty of kids with siblings, sharing is forced upon them.
From the hand-me-down clothes they were made to wear, to the solitary Tamagotchi digital pet they had to take turns with.
But an only child has always had everything to themselves. They didn’t have to patiently wait or begrudgingly let their brother have a go.
So they may not always relish sharing.
7) They don’t always handle conflict so well
Maybe they try to avoid it altogether. Perhaps they shut down, can’t communicate so well, or completely fly off the handle.
Just like brothers and sisters are good at exposing us to criticism, similarly, we learn how conflict is an unavoidable fact of life.
But only children don’t have someone to squabble with. So they aren’t necessarily as exposed to falling out and making up.
One study discovered that only children may have a harder time being liked by their peers, and have a higher chance of being victimized and aggressive. Both of which leave them with insecurities.
The bottom line:
Maybe having brothers and sisters can teach us how to manage conflict better.
8) They can be a bit self-centered on occasion
Let’s start by saying:
All of us can be a bit selfish from time to time, regardless of whether we’re an only child or not.
But only children do score lower on the likability scale.
And some of that is probably down to certain poorer social skills and being used to getting their own way.
It may lead to bossy or self-centered behavior at times.
One study done in 2011 found that people from only-child families are more narcissistic than those from families with multiple children.
9) They’re a creative thinker
Only children are good at thinking outside the box.
So they may be the first to offer up new and interesting insights.
Maybe that’s down to their independent streak or having to use their imagination more with solo play.
But research has shown that only children exhibit higher flexibility scores, which is an important dimension of creativity.
There are some unfair myths about only-child syndrome
It’s pretty clear that whether you are an only child or not can impact you in big and small ways.
But there are some stereotypes about only kids that don’t hold much weight.
Yes, they may struggle with certain social adjustments. But being an only child certainly doesn’t mean you think the world revolves around you or are destined to be possessive or eternally lonely!
Ultimately the evidence shows that only children are smart, successful, and pretty well-adjusted.
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