Four Problems of Being an Only Child

At times, too much attention from parents and other elements of raising an only child can affect the development of the personalities of these children.
Four Problems of Being an Only Child
Bernardo Peña

Written and verified by the psychologist Bernardo Peña.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

An only child is always the center of attention at home. Sometimes, overprotection by parents and other negative parenting behaviors can directly affect the development of these children and create personality conflicts. Below we’ll talk about 4 problems that an only children can face.

The Challenges Only Children Face

1. Difficulty Relating To Others

A child looking at a tablet on a bed.

Only children don’t have brothers or sisters to share free time with. People often think that the attention they receive at home, and their habit of focusing on their own needs, can create difficulties when it comes to empathizing with other children.

The best example is when they go to school for the first time and find themselves in an environment where everyone gets equal attention. Their initial reaction is often rejection.

However, this is still a controversial topic because although many studies confirm the theory, others seem to contradict it. Whether the data supports or contradicts this theory depends on the sample being studied, as this work carried out by researchers at the Pontifical University of Comillas, Madrid, points out. More research on this topic is needed.

Read more: Learn to Set Boundaries in Your Personal Relationships

2. Managing Conflict

Problems are part of life. However, psychologists believe that we develop our conflict resolution skills during childhood.

With no siblings to fight with, and parents who always deal with their problems, only children may grow up with difficulties handling challenges and conflicts.

Since they’ve never had to fight for what they want, they may become defeatist.

only daughter

3. Selfishness

Most children between the ages of 10 and 12 think they’re the center of the world. However, children who have brothers and sisters learn to share.

A lot of only children believe that they have the right to get everything they want without thinking about others. Generally, all the parents’ economic resources are used to meet their needs, and they don’t have anyone else that they share space and time with, as this study by researchers at Sek International University points out. But this belief depends very much on the way they’re raised.

4. Excessive pressure

Parents often pin all their hopes on their children regardless of their age. If parents are frustrated or overly demanding, this can result in intense pressure for the child, especially in the case of only children. This can lead to these children doing everything they can to make their parents’ dreams come true.

Do not miss this article: The Four Stages of Life and Their Crises

How to mitigate the challenges of only children

An only child with her mother.
  • Give your son or daughter a certain level of responsibility. Teach them to help you around the house, tidy their room, take care of their pet… In this way, your child will learn to manage their time, to value you and to take care of what they have.
  • Children need both independence and love. They need you, but they also need space to make the little mistakes that will shape their experience and personality.
  • Every child thinks they’re the center of the world, but it’s your duty to teach them differently. You can help them make friends by enrolling them in activity groups they like or encouraging them to have study groups at home.
  • Your child has the right to be who they want to be; your role is to advise and guide them to be good, fulfilled and happy people by developing a good parenting style. You can do it!

In conclusion, only children have to learn to be responsible, to empathize and to share with others. This can help guard against them becoming selfish.

The value of sharing and the ability to put yourself in others’ shoes is fundamental in a society that’s increasingly open, tolerant, and based on sharing and respect for others.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.