The Solo Path: Navigating the World as an Only Child

The Solo Path: Navigating the World as an Only Child


As you already know, A single child also known as an only child is a person with no siblings. Historically, there weren’t many parents with a single child. Certain families had up to ten children, as family planning was not a thing, and only a few siblings survived due to problems like plague, illness and poverty. But over some time with proper health care, economic growth and education, the survival rate of infants started to rise, it was only after the 20th century the family size began to reduce, and nuclear families emerged. With the rise of capitalism, the joint family situation changed to a nuclear family with a single child, as parents had to move to cities for jobs, and couldn’t afford multiple children. 

Personality traits and tendencies are connected to family dynamics and relationships, Particularly with our families, will have a grave impact on all relationships from childhood into adulthood. However, many believe that the absence of siblings can have certain psychological effects on an only child’s emotional well-being.

Psychological effects experienced by single children include: Lonely 

As they have no siblings at home, single children may feel lonely and isolated. Especially if their parents are working But at the same time we must keep in mind that single children do enjoy the full attention from their parents, therefore they prefer the company of adults over children.


Parents and grandparents may spoil the single child, as they adore their children. Children might not have to share their stuff with anyone, therefore people often misunderstand this behaviour, as being rude and spoiled. Even in corporate environments, single children are deemed to be selfish, and uncooperative and display tendencies to take credit for team accomplishments.

High Sense of Independence 

Families with multiple children, or joint families, foster a sense of community. Here the rearing practices are done in a group setting, they always stick together and support each other, even when their parents are scolding them, even In schools, they feel at ease, while the single child may have to go through it alone. which may develop a strong sense of independence. Furthermore, hyper-independence could be an adopted coping strategy for an only kid whose parents have great expectations for them and who punish them severely if they don’t live up to those standards. 

Longing for siblings 

Even if the child is not lonely, they might see their peer with their siblings, and observe the interactions and bonds that siblings share. This can lead to the longing and create a desire for companionship and the unique connection that siblings often provide. 

Poor Social Skills 

Only children receive fewer opportunities to engage in casual, everyday social activities due to the absence of siblings. This family dynamic consequently impacts their relationships with friends, as they might struggle to relate to their peers. They feel awkward with peers.

High Achievers

When all resources are dedicated to raising a single child, that child will enjoy the privilege of becoming an achiever. With ample means at their disposal, parents could provide tutoring, art classes, and other enriching activities for their children. The parents would also directly or indirectly put all their hopes and dreams on their child, inculcating a sense of responsibility, who try to accomplish multiple goals. 

Read More: Understanding the Pressure on High-Achievers

Other traits include:

  • Highly Sensitive to Criticism: Children are considered to be sensitive and often emotionally vulnerable even with constructive feedback, even as adults they are defensive and take criticism as a personal attack. 
  • Perfectionism: This can be a positive trait in some cases, but it can lead to excessive self-deprecation and the dislike to sort tasks out for others 
  • High IQ: While only children may have higher IQ scores and better academic performance compared to children from multi-sibling homes, these differences tend to decrease as children grow up.
  • High BMI: This may be because only children don’t have the same opportunities to partake in active play with their siblings. They enjoy sedentary activities 

These are certain characteristics found in single children but the belief that single children are negatively affected by their “singleness ” is not strongly supported by research. Toni Falbo, a researcher in the area of only children, claims that only children are similar to those with siblings in terms of personality, temperament, and social skills. 

Read More: “THE PERFECTIONISM”-Is it really a boon or a bane?

However, more recent findings suggest that only children are more likely to be obese and have higher BMIs. Many societal factors affect children in shaping their personality, but many single children have faced difficulties in getting jobs and friends due to the stereotypes attached to them. Therefore we must keep in mind that, single children might not always have it as easy as it seems, and be empathetic towards them.

Reference +
  • Trent, K., & Spitze, G. D. (2011). GROWING UP WITHOUT SIBLINGS AND ADULT SOCIABILITY BEHAVIORS. Journal of Family Issues, 32(9), 1178–1204.
  • Polit, Denise F., et al. “The Only Child Grows up: A Look at Some Characteristics of Adult Only Children.” Family Relations, vol. 29, no. 1, JSTOR, Jan. 1980, p. 99. Crossref, 
  • GPolit, D. F. & Falbo, T. (1988), “The intellectual achievement of only children”, Journal of Biosocial Science, 20 (3): 275–285, doi:10.1017/S0021932000006611, PMID 3063715, S2CID 34618696.

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