The Uniqueness of Being The Only Child
Thu, April 22, 2021

The Uniqueness of Being The Only Child

Only children (kids who have no other siblings) have developed a reputation over the years. According to stereotype, only children are confident, socially mature, high-achieving, conscientious, goal-driven, and used to getting their own way / Photo by: Sergei Kolesnikov via Shutterstock

 

Only children (kids who have no other siblings) have developed a reputation over the years. According to stereotype, only children are confident, socially mature, high-achieving, conscientious, goal-driven, and used to getting their own way, as mentioned on Entrepreneur online, an American website that carries news stories about entrepreneurship, small business management, and business for aspiring entrepreneurs, Only children are negatively seen as attention-seeking perfectionists, who only see in black and white, right or wrong. Moreover, Alice Walton, senior contributor at Forbes, an American business magazine published bi-weekly that features original articles on finance, industry, investing, marketing topics, technology, communications, science, politics, and law, said that per conventional wisdom, only children are antisocial, anti-sharing, and not good at playing well with others. But, they also tend to be a little bit savvier compared to those kids with siblings. 

These conventions have been found to be linked to the likelihood of how parents and children interact due to having only one child in the house, regardless of background, ethnicity, and religion. Similarities arise in the behavior of only children due to the circumstances interacting only with parents and with no other sibling brings. Studies have found common traits that are emphasized specifically in families with only children.

Only children tend to have problems working for large organizations and are more attracted to work more independently in smaller companies. Among famous only children are writers and artists such as EM Forster, Ezra Pound, Hans Christian Andersen, Karl Marx, and Leonardo da Vinci and sports stars like Tiger Woods and Maria Sharapova. Famous political figures include Theresa May and Indira Gandhi.

 

By the Numbers

According to Entrepreneur, the United States Census Bureau shared that single-child families have grown from 10 million to 15 million since 1972, the fastest growing family unit in the nation. This is common not only in the US, but also in China, the United Kingdom, and European countries.

In a survey featured in an article published in the Guardian, a British daily online news, titled “Truth about only children: are they more insular and confident?” more than 2,500 Spanish teenagers found that only children experienced higher rates of victimization. Claire Hughes, a professor of developmental studies, shared that the perception of victimization among only children may be linked to how they are not used to interacting with either rough or smooth siblings. A study by Southwest University in China found that more than 250 college students suggested only children were more creative and flexible in thinking but were less agreeable, affecting interaction socially, and may perceive actions as victimizing.

According to Entrepreneur, the United States Census Bureau shared that single-child families have grown from 10 million to 15 million since 1972, the fastest growing family unit in the nation / Photo by: XiXinXing via Shutterstock

 

Personality and Behavioral Traits

Only children, also known as “onlies,” are those who hold a special place in their parent’s hearts. They’ve received full attention from their parents, a big chunk of money allocated to them without much conflict from anyone. They’re able to communicate not only with peers and other kids the same age but are also able to learn and share resources with parents, similar to a firstborn. They have the privilege of having both parents’ support and the burden of expectations. Some have even called only children as “firstborns in triplicate,” who experience the best and worst of all worlds. Onlies are firstborns that remain as a firstborn all throughout their lives, and they do not have to compete with other kids in the household because there’s none. They are more free-willing than firstborns, are able to take more risks, and are under complete supervision and with the safety of parents. Onlies are intelligent thinkers, but they do not carry the same judgment that firstborns have for younger siblings. 

Truity, a free online personality tests and career assessment website, conducted a survey on the personality types of 5,747 respondents. This was a TypeFinder Personality Test based on Myers Briggs’ typology that found ESTP or extroverted, sensing, thinking, and perceiving individuals as 100% more likely to be only children than if birth order and being an only child were not related. This survey also found that there are 32% more INTP or introverted, intuitive, thinking, and perceiving only children than would be if there were no correlations with behavior in only children. Additionally, 44% and 34% of respective ESFP or extroverted, sensing, feeling and perceiving, and INFJ or introverted, intuitive, feeling and judging individuals were less likely to have grown up as only children.

No matter what the debate, considering the mix of birth order’s role in family dynamics helps us appreciate the traits and behaviors unique to each one, as well as recognizing our own / Photo by: Monkey Business Images via Shutterstock

 

Still Up for Debate

Birth order in children and its connection to the personality and behavior of an individual has been debated on since the 1800s—a famous feud related to this was between Alfred Adler and Sigmund Freud. While there are many debates against personality traits surfacing from birth order including that this theory is unquantifiable and based on nurture presumption, there still exist uncanny similarities among similar children brought up in the same way. Critics say that people are shaped by what they read about traits from birth order.

No matter what the debate, considering the mix of birth order’s role in family dynamics helps us appreciate the traits and behaviors unique to each one, as well as recognizing our own.