Only child syndrome is not the mythical syndrome we once thought. Being an only child can affect you more than you realize.

Only child syndrome is a pop psychology term linking selfish or inconsiderate behavior to a lack of a sibling. Many believe that only children do not know how to share or cooperate because they never had to learn.

That their parents gave them more because they had more time and resources. Although the typical view of only children, this theory has never found any psychological basis.

Previous studies focused on differences in personality traits, conduct, and cognitive function. However, these studies found no particular correlation between traits and those with or without a sibling.

For these reasons, only child syndrome is considered to be a false syndrome. Psychologists often stated that there is no such thing and that only children function just as well as those with siblings.

A more recent study, however, has focussed on the neural basis of such traits and the correlation to whether or not that person had a sibling. Tests showed that being an only child can affect you in a number of ways, making only child syndrome a very real phenomenon.

In fact, being an only child can change the very development of your brain. Being an only child can produce different effects on everyone, but below are some typical signs of only child syndrome.

Other studies show that only children do better in school, are more highly motivated and have higher self-esteem than those with siblings because they get more individual attention from parents and can receive immediate support when it is needed.

On the other hand, there have been some studies which point to social difficulties only children suffer. Siblings offer vital relationship and social training from a young age, meaning that Onlies may struggle to catch up and may be less adjusted as they mature.

Overall, there are seven main traits of only child syndrome which can be collated from various tests. Only children may have one or all of these traits.

1. You are creative

Scans compared between only children and those with siblings showed a higher grey matter volume in the parietal lobe. This part of the brain is linked with imagination, making only children typically more creative than those with siblings.

If you are an only child and find yourself taking to the arts, it may be because you’re hard-wired to be more creative.

2. You are a skilled problem solver

The same area of the brain which is linked to creativity is also linked to mental flexibility. This makes only children slightly more skilled at problem-solving due to their creativity.

Only children can, therefore, think around a problem slightly differently than others more instinctively rather than having to learn this later.

3. You do well in academics

Only children generally get much more help and support from their parents. This means that Onlies generally do better in academics than those with siblings. They are not vying for their parents’ attention and can, therefore, receive the necessary support almost immediately.

4. You have higher self-esteem than most

The extra attention, love, and support Onlies get from their parents shows in their self-esteem. Only children are typically more confident and self-assured than others, giving them a heightened sense of self and confidence in their abilities.

5. You are a little socially inept

The downside of being an only child is that you do not have the socialization enjoyed by those with siblings. Learning to cooperate and converse with others from a young age makes those with siblings much more socially skilled.

This makes only children less skilled in important aspects of adulthood. They aren’t as strong in forming social relationships and, at first, they can find it difficult to make friends in childhood.

6. You think about yourself more than others

Due to the fact that only children have never had to think of a sibling, they are more likely to think of themselves first. This selfishness shows in teamwork and in building basic relationships. It can be difficult for only children to learn to think of others first and to forgo their own needs.

7. You are independent

One thing only childhoods will teach is independence. Only children will tackle problems by themselves because this is how they have learned to deal with things. Siblings provide a vital support network through the ups and downs of life.

This is something that only children miss out on. They experience the difficult parts alone and have to learn to cope independently. This can be both a blessing and a curse. Although it means you can deal with the difficult things very well, it makes it difficult to accept help when you need it.

Only child syndrome is now conclusively proven to be a real syndrome, but it is not necessarily what we thought. Only child syndrome is not always a bad thing.

In fact, it can make you much more intelligent and mentally flexible. There can be huge benefits from being an only child, however, as with anything, there are some downsides. As long as we are aware of where our weaknesses may lie, only child syndrome does not have to be negative.



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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Anne

    As an only child, I had a very close relationship with my parents, As my husband put it – I was part of a club that no one else could be part of. We never spoke of personal issues to anyone outside that trio. We supported & trusted each other unconditionally. As an adult as they got older I put their needs first – spending more and more time supporting them. and being with them. It was expected but also it is what I wanted to do. Since their deaths, a year apart, I have floundered, suffering from depression. I have no close relationships other than my husband but he doesn;t see the problem I have. He is a twin and has 3 brothers and many nephews. and neices who he dotes on. I encourage this as he needs these relationships. You may say I am part of his family but they don;t feel like family. Not like my family. They are not connected by blood and don;t feel close. They discuss family issues with each other as I did with my parents but I find this intrusive. They are family but I can’t feel close to anyone any more however hard I try. I ring them occasionally to show an interest and they are all nice people but I can’t feel closeness to them. I am now 67yrs old and never wanted children of my own. Do other ;only children; feel like this I wonder.

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