Many parents of single children wonder if children with siblings have certain social advantages over their single child. While single children may have less interaction with peers, especially during early childhood, these kids seldom suffer from their lack of siblings. Encouraging your only child to develop healthy relationships and positive behaviors may help him succeed in life, regardless of his only child status.
Average family size varies, depending on cultural norms and social trends. Whereas large American families may have formed the basis for early generations, current trends include single-parent families, combined family units and families with just one child. Although parents of an only child may observe behavioral problems in their single offspring, these can be the result of influences beyond the absence of siblings.
Parents often worry that an only child won’t develop social skills at the same rate as his peers with siblings. Other common concerns include possible overindulgence and loneliness from lack of companionship. While only children may exhibit some differences, they are likely to benefit the only child, rather than pose problems.
While the results of studies on single children families vary, Virtual Teacher Aide advises that only children may score slightly higher in areas such as academic achievement and may have certain advantages, such as individual attention from parents and freedom from sibling rivalry. Only children may belong to fewer organizations and lead a less intensive social life; however, they can have close friends and feel happy with their lives, regardless of their only child status.
Friends play an important role in social development, regardless of the presence of siblings. The National Network for Child Care advises that friendships encourage self-exploration, emotional growth and moral development. Children with social skills deficits may experience difficulties due to lack of knowledge, negative motivations or feelings of inadequacy.
Raising a child with behavioral problems can be difficult, whether he is an only child or a child with siblings. Consult with your child’s school psychologist, if you have concerns about your only child’s behavior and social interactions. The National Association of School Psychologists recommends teachers, parents and caregivers work together to develop interventions that can help reinforce skills. Encouraging desirable behavior by employing positive strategies, as well as enhancing social skills, may help resolve certain behavioral problems.