Common Traits of the Only Child

By Erica Loop
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Single-child families have been on the rise from the 1960s through 2010, likely due to the growing cost of living, women waiting until later in their lives to start families and personal beliefs. Although the stereotypical picture of the only child is often of an aloof, asocial, spoiled loner, these are often myths. The true traits common to only children often include positive characteristics, such as academic ability and confidence.

Educational Achievement

While there's no proof that only children are smarter than those with siblings, they do tend to have a higher degree of educational achievement, according to the article "The Only Child: Debunking the Myths" on "Time" magazine's website. This is a likely a result of parents having more time and finances to dedicate to a single child's education in contrast to splitting these resources between two or more kids. Parents of only children may also have higher expectations academically. This may result in higher tests scores and the increased likelihood of going to -- or getting into -- college.

Confidence and Self-Esteem

Only children may show higher senses of self-esteem than kids with siblings. The attention, acceptance and approval that parents shower upon their one and only may translate into a healthy amount of confidence in the child, according to Psychologist Carl Pickhardt on the Psychology Today website. Without other children around to detract from their affection, the only child's sense of being the center of her parent's world may foster self-esteem.

Private Person

Unlike a child with siblings -- who has to share a bedroom or other home spaces -- only children typically have a high degree of privacy. This may mean single children are more private than those who live at home with brothers and sisters around. They often place a high degree of importance on privacy. This doesn't mean only children can't or won't share. Instead, they may simply feel uncomfortable with someone else infringing on their space.

Comfort Around Adults

Imagine two children -- a brother and a sister -- growing up together, sharing their playtimes without having to rely on mom or dad for complete company. Now take a look at an only child. When at home, the single child only has the parents to talk to or play with. Although this parent-child time offers the opportunity for plenty of attention and affection, it also may make the child more comfortable interacting with adults and more mature than a child who has several siblings.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.