November 30, 2023

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What Science Really Says About the Impact of Children Without Siblings

What Science Really Says About the Impact of Children Without Siblings

Selfish, bossy, socially awkward, jealous people tend to get their way And, if that wasn’t enough, a very bad mood. Their bad reputation precedes them. however, Several studies have shown that these are not characteristics associated only with children.And these are, in many ways, not particularly different from children with siblings.

“Evidence, generally, It does not support the idea that children who develop only as infants have some sort of deficit in their social skillscompared to children who grow up with siblings,” he says BBC World Alice GoisAssociate Professor of Demography at the Center for Longitudinal Studies, University College London.

The researcher adds that these children are “comparable in terms of personality, relationship with parents, achievements, motivations, and personal adjustment to siblings.”

A study by Koisis and his colleagues reveals that other factors that are more important influence children’s development, such as the family’s socioeconomic situation or the emotional resources available to parents.

Although some studies show differences, Goisis points that out The reasons behind inconsistencies are due to context, not the fact of being an only child for one. “For example, in the United Kingdom, where an only child is an indicator of growing up in a relatively advantaged family, we found that these children have equal or better health compared to children with siblings later in life.”

The difference between identical children is wide and depends on the environment in which they grew up.Getty Images

“In Sweden, the norm is to have two children, and only children come from families in poor economic conditions, the latter having poor health later in life,” says Koysis. that is, Given the importance of context and the enormous variation among children alone, it cannot be considered a category..

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Even if the effect is not significant in terms of cognition or sociability, it may be largely attributable to the environment in which the child grows up, which does not mean that we cannot observe differences. Every level in the familya – Be it the eldest child, the middle child or the youngest child- It has their advantages and disadvantagesHe explains BBC World Linda Blair is a clinical psychologist in the United Kingdom.

Although “this is the family group that has changed the most in the last 40 or 50 years”, this more or less favorable situation is no different in the case of an only child, (which has consequently become more common. A preference).

One of the advantages Blair has observed in her more than 40 years of experience is a linguistic specialty that is usually reserved for children.. “This happens because of the linguistic contribution of the parents, which is not interrupted by other children, which does not come from their peers, and which is necessary for brain development in the first 24 or 36 months of life.” This gives children a huge educational advantage, he added.

Usually only children have better language skillsGetty Images

On the other hand, They are generally very good at organizing and using their free time, with no siblings, they have to figure out and decide what to do with it. Finally, Blair notes, “They bond more easily with older people because they do it all the time.”

On the other hand, Not having siblings can put a child at a significant disadvantage. “There is research showing that siblings have a protective effect when there is a dysfunctional parental relationship in the home, mitigating the negative impact of these stressors in this situation,” she explains. BBC World Adrian MancillasAmerican psychologist and teacher Challenging stereotypes about only children: A review of the literature and implications for practice (Challenging stereotypes about only children: A review of the literature and implications for Spanish).

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For this reason, in these cases, Mancillas highlights the importance, Consider looking for support beyond parenting statisticsClose friends or family members.

If the parental relationship is dysfunctional, the impact is somewhat diluted when the family is large.Getty Images

A flaw noted by the player Lack of so-called “street smarts” only in children. Blair notes that kind of intuitive and practical insight, “It allows you to quickly recognize what someone is going to do and you can’t really learn if you don’t live with people of a similar age.” Another added feature is that How they spend so much time aloneOr with adults, they are not comfortable with confusion.

Blair insists that these are common characteristics, and as we noted at the outset, There are no rules to describe an only child.. But if science is dispelling prejudices that paint children in the most inappropriate colors, why is this idea so hard to eradicate and how did it arise in the first place?

Being unique, they inevitably attract the attention of their parentsGetty Images

Negative attitudes surrounding only children date back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Child psychology strengthened its foundation as a field of educational study.

G. Stanley HallAmerican psychologist and pioneer in this field of study, published a series of books Popular culture today describes children without siblings as having many of the characteristics ascribed to them. He went so far as to describe an only child as “a disease”.

A little later, the American psychologist Eugene BohannonContributed his grain of sand: According to his analysis, Parents’ exclusive attention to an only child made them “too sensitive”.“low risk”, “premature” and “reckless”.

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However, another psychologist, more widely known than Hall, was more influential in perpetuating negative stereotypes around only children: the Austrian Alfred Adler, Mancilas argues.

Dr. Alfred Adler (1870-1937)Getty Images

“Adler was the first psychologist to study and write in depth about how birth order and family structure affect children’s development,” he says. BBC World. “In Adler’s own case study writings, He describes the only children he treated medically in a very negative wayAnd not only are these spoiled children, he asserted, parents who choose not to have more children are causing psychological harm to their only child.

The research methods of these researchers were later questioned and their theories refuted by many subsequent studies. This is a myth that is hard to dispel..

Koise believes that this is because the two-child family is still the norm, while the only child continues to be outside the norm and, therefore, considered different (and objectionable).

Even so, Attitudes towards children are changing dramatically, due to changes in the current family model, Blair says. While being an only child was an anomaly in the past, “the situation is very different today. In the United KingdomFor example 40% of families have only one childAnd it is estimated that by 2030 it will account for half of households,” says Blair.

Although these preconceptions are beginning to change, the idea that they are capricious and selfish is deeply ingrained in society.Getty Images

For Mancilas, discussing these issues and bringing accurate research and information to the public is the way to ultimately change perceptions. “It’s true that there’s no prejudice or stereotype,” he says.

“When implicit biases become overt, that’s when They can be changed to correct biased thinking Otherwise stereotypes that harm another individual or group. When we apply this to children and parents only, it is to ensure that Information is widespread, so parents can feel confident She ends up having only one child,” concludes Mancillas.