The Challenges of Being an Only Child
A child is a gift to the world, especially to the family they’re born into. Whether a family has a single child or multiple children, each child depending on their birth order, has a unique set of challenges and experiences.
Alfred Adler developed the birth order theory in the early 20th century. This theory believes that the order in which a child is born helps shape their development and personality. Since its inception, many psychologists believe there is some truth to the theory. However, there are also some stereotypes associated with each child.
Only children are born to a family but do not have siblings. Like children with siblings, only children have unique challenges that can either make or break their growth.
Adults have surrounded an only child since birth. While it does not necessarily mean that you haven’t socialized with other children during kindergarten or school, only children have lesser “access” to peers.
Some unique challenges that only children face include the following:
1. Overprotective parents.
Many children who don’t have siblings feel their parents are overprotective of them because they are the only children in the family. This instance can make them feel overly conscious and dependent on their parents.
If you’re a parent, the best way to avoid this is to allow your child some room to “breathe,” i.e., this method of stepping back will enable them to make mistakes, let them enjoy being a child, and provide support and help without solving their problems for them.
2. Lack of experience sharing resources like clothes, space, toys, and attention.
Children without siblings rarely experience having to share resources with their siblings, including clothes, space, toys, and attention.
Since only children in their families never had to compete for their parent’s attention and love, many end up being ‘spoiled,’ especially if their parents are too indulgent.
If you’re a parent who has an only child, the best way you can help your child learn to share is to encourage them to share with friends and cousins. You can also teach them the value of charity by volunteering together, like donating clothes and toys to unfortunate children around the holidays. Aside from giving your child valuable experience, it allows them to expand their worldview beyond their insights.
3. Feel extra pressure to do well.
Many only children feel pressured to do well because of their parent’s expectations. Unlike siblings, who may share the burden or have multiple responsibilities split between them, an only child must bear the burden and pressure alone. They may add more responsibilities to their plate, hoping it will satisfy their parent’s needs and wants.
Bottomline: Birth order theory is a popular developmental psychology theory where a child’s birth order influences their personality development.
Only children, like children with siblings, have unique experiences that can either make or break them. To ensure they stay secure, parents must meet their basic physical and social needs while reducing pressure on them. Good luck!