Only Child Syndrome

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Being an only child all my life, I have found that there is this weird stigma around it. People think I am either 1) Really spoiled and bratty or 2) Really lonely. I am here to tell you that this is not the case. 

When I was younger all I wanted was a sibling, an older brother to be exact. But I have come to the reality that this will not happen and I'm okay with it, in fact I prefer it. These assumptions that are passed around about only childhood fascinate me because they are always from someone with siblings in close proximity. Someone who has spent most of their life sharing things and the spotlight with another, that doesn't make them who they are today though. But when I tell people I'm an only child, they often assume that I am going to be terrible at sharing things and working in a team. The latter was correct for a long time, because I was so used to be being on my own; throw me in a team situation and I didn't know what to do, but that's the thing about only children. Like other 'normal' children we learn and after being in school for a multitude of my life I became a bit of a social butterfly and now prefer to work in a team than on my own most of the time. 

I think you get the best of both worlds being an only child, especially if you're introverted. If your childhood was anything like mine I had time to myself during the week and then I had friends who would come and visit their parents or grandparents at the weekend near my house. That's when we would play and where I could get my socialising done and then, by Monday I was back to my own company and I actually preferred it like that. Being an ambivert/mostly introvert I think if I had stimulus from others constantly I wouldn't have been as happy. Being an only child also gives you the opportunity to become incredibly imaginative. I would spend hours on my own making up stories and creating things and I mean hours. And I think I can now say that that's the reason I'm such a creative person now, because I would literally spend all of my time either outside up a tree drawing or playing with my animal hospital and creating role plays; in a dystopian universe where the animals operate on the humans (edgy). 

The science and psychology behind only childhood is fascinating as well. Scientists in the 50's found that only children had a harder time to adjust to a school setting (well no shit) and are proven to mature faster than other children. Meaning that the term 'spoiled brat' in most cases is completely un-true. One recent study found the negative traits of only children to be true in China stating that 'those who grew up as only children are found to be less trusting, less trustworthy, less likely to take risks, and less competitive than if they had had siblings. They are also less optimistic, less conscientious, and more prone to neuroticism' O oh. But don't worry if you're an only child all is not lost. This is a reflection of results from a very small study in China and it is actually quite dangerous to publish it like this because the researcher is applying it to all only children. Like anything being an only child is subjective and it's more about how you are raised than how many siblings you have. But it is interesting to know there have been multiple studies on this topic and it still continues to be a subject of interest in millennial only children especially, like this horrendous article

Don't get me wrong there are downsides to being an only child; there's the complete focus and attention on you as an individual, Christmas is a particularly strange time of year for me seems as I'm the youngest in my families generation. Also I was what you call a 'cotton wool child' this was due to personal reasons about my parents being over protective but I now project that cotton wool onto many aspects of my life. Although it has taught me to be very safety conscious and risk aware, it still hinders my life and probably didn't help my anxiety when growing up. Also there were plenty of times in my childhood where I felt lonely, like really lonely. I lived in the middle of no-where, my parents worked full time and I only saw children my age at the weekends, it wasn't too fun, but as I said before I created my own fun and I am better for it. 

I think the thing about being an only child is that if you've got an endless imagination and an awareness of the fact that it is just you and this attention and focus is a positive thing, you'll be just fine. And I know in my case I have a better relationship with my parents because of it. It also teaches you to be patient and I do fully agree with the studies that say we mature faster . We're just little imaginative hippy children living in trees and talking to ourselves, we have no time for those negative sibling vibes!

I would love to know if you grew up as an only child or with siblings and whether you believe it has impacted your personality at all. 
Has being an only child made you more mature and independent?



  1. I think I'd disagree about having siblings not changing you as a person. I would 100% say I'm a completely different person because I have a sister, but it's interesting to see your take on being an only child

    Steph -

    1. Oh really that's interesting, I didn't want to make assumptions about being raised in a family with siblings because I obviously don't have that experience, but if you think it did change you that's fascinating. I guess from a social aspect and things it would make a difference. thanks for you feedback!