The Situationist

Archive for September 23rd, 2008

The Overlooked Normalcy of Only Children

Posted by The Situationist Staff on September 23, 2008

Last year, we blogged on the situation of only children.  Below we excerpt a piece by Heidi Stevens of the Chicago Tribune on how stereotypes of only children being not as well adjusted as kids with siblings appears to be untrue.

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But for all their strength in numbers, only children (and their parents) still shoulder a hefty load of stigmas — many dating back to 1896, when psychologist G. Stanley Hall said “being an only child is a disease in itself.” Only 3 percent of Americans think a single-child family is the ideal family size, according to a 2004 Gallup poll.

“The stereotypes are still there,” says Carolyn White, editor of Only Child magazine. “That they’re unable to socialize well or have close friendships or be in relationships that are secure and bonded. That they don’t think of others as well as themselves.”

Never mind that 30 years of research, conducted mostly by social psychologist Toni Falbo, proves the opposite is true.

“In many respects, only children tend to be more well-adjusted,” says White. “They learn to socialize very well because they know that if they don’t, they’re not going to have any pals. They really have to get out there.”

Onlies are usually resourceful, independent, gregarious and extremely driven, White says, and they tend to outperform their peers with siblings on academic achievement tests.

“That extra attention from parents can have a very positive effect,” she says.

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To read the rest of the story, click here.

This post is one in a series tracing the influence of situational influences on the development of children from youth into adolescence. To read other posts on this topic, go to “Role-Playing Helps Adolescent Emotional Learning,” “Jock or Nerd?: Where Do You Sit at the Dinner Table?,” “Biology and Environment Affect Childhood Behavioral Development,” or “Growing up in a Sexualizing Situation.”

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