No one is supposed to judge you or criticize your parenting, but it happens all the time, especially when the subject of how many children you have comes up. If you have several children, people question you and ask how you can handle it, how you can give all of your children enough attention, and ask, "Don't you know how that happens yet?" But have only one child and everyone flip flops to telling you how being an only child affects your kid later, giving you their expert opinion on why siblings are necessary to life.
It's no secret that your child's birth order can influence their personality. But it's not based on biology, according to Parents. While it makes sense that the oldest child would become a leader, it has more to do with the role you impart on your child (without realizing it), as well as their place in the sibling line-up and how it affects their behavior.
But how does an only child take on their role without other siblings to divert their attention or push them into a certain personality? Does an only child take on all of the traits of siblings? Are they both peace-makers and manipulative to get their way? Do they learn how to share? Do they grow up thinking the world revolves around them?
Although you might worry that your little one is missing something in terms of siblings, only children don't grow up to be raging lunatics incapable of social interaction or sharing. In fact, research has found that your child may flourish as an only child. According to Psychology Today, only children often have high self-esteem and feel that they are important to the world because they were their parents' only child and therefore were lavished with attention, praise, and affection. Only children tend to think well of themselves, and as with any person, this could lead to an only child becoming arrogant or self-centered according to Parents.
Being the center of your world doesn't mean your child only has high self-esteem either. Psychology Today also notes that only children often enjoy being the center of attention (because they are used to being the center of your world), are sensitive to disapproval and very self-critical, and can value privacy because they grew up under a microscope as your only child.
If you're worried that your child will fit the stereotype of being bossy, aggressive, and always wanting their own way, fear not. Sociologist Susan Newman told Psychology Today that because only children don't have the experience of disagreeing with siblings and fighting with them, they often work hard to be well-liked among their peers and included in group settings. She also notes that because their voice is always heard at home, they don't feel the need to be the loudest person in the room, or the first in line for something like those who have to compete with siblings.
In short? Only children tend to be just as happy as children who grew up in a house full of siblings. According to The New York Times, many studies have found that only children score just as well as children with siblings in the areas of contentment, emotional stability, popularity, generosity, and social participation.
Their behavior is bound to change based on how you parent your only child. If you give them everything they ask for, because they are your only child, it can lead to selfish, possessive tendencies. If you fear letting them go, because they are your only child, they may have a hard time with authority as they grow. But like with any child, if you nurture and love them, regardless of their place in a sibling line-up, they will grow up to be just as well-adjusted as their peers with siblings.