16 Things About Only Children (And 4 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Them)

When it comes to only children, there are so many myths and misconceptions. Long-term research shows that only children don't really fit the stereotypes. They aren't the spoiled loners that they're made out to be!

One study, by an educational psychology professor at the University of Texas, shows that only children socialize just as much as children who have siblings. While being an "only" does bring challenges, most "onlies" do rise to the challenge. Some attain incredible success, despite their lack of brothers and sisters. Natalie Portman, who scored the plum role of Padmé Amidala in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, at the tender age of 16, is one famous example.

With everything in life, there are pros and cons. On the "pro" side, only children tend to get along very well with adults, receive plenty of attention while growing up and have a mature way about them. The downside is that kids who are "onlies" may enter the school system with poor social skills, and have more chance of getting divorced as adults. Bear in mind that there are pros and cons to having siblings too.

Only children do have some interesting traits and we're going to look at twenty of them today. There is so much to learn about "onlies".

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20 They Tend To Be Happier

We all want to feel special and valued. Only children don't need to compete with siblings for attention. They tend to feel very loved and this may be why statistics show that only children are happier than kids without siblings. If you're the parent of an "only", and you're worried about your child, try to relax. There is proof that only children are often very happy. Studies show that Moms who have only children are the happiest Moms, too.

When there are more siblings in the mix, there is more competition among siblings. The more siblings, the more unhappy kids tend to be. So, there is an upside to being an "only".

19 They May Have A Hard Time In Kindergarten


When only children start school, they don't have much experience being around other kids. They might have some buddies that they see during play dates, and may have pint-sized relatives, but they don't live with other kids. This means that only children often lack social skills. Making friends isn't as easy for them as it is for kids with siblings. Things usually get better by Grade 5.

Since 20 percent of children in America are "onlies", it's important for parents and educators to be aware that only children may feel like fish out of water when they start school. Exposing these kids to groups of children, regularly, before Kindergarten, will be smart.

18 They Have A Higher Likelihood Of Getting Divorced As Adults

A study conducted at The University of Chicago showed that only children are more likely to go through divorces in adulthood than those who come from larger families. "Onlies" are also less likely to tie the knot than those who grow up with siblings. Apparently, the number of kids in a family has a direct impact on divorce risk in adult children. It impacts whether adults are likely to marry or not, too.

These statistics matter, but they don't mean that only children never get married or stay married. These facts do underscore an important truth, which is that only children are a little different than kids with brothers and sisters.

17 They Tend To Get Better Marks In School

Only children are first-born children. No children come after them, but they're still first up in the birth order and have the traits of first-born kids. First-born children tend to get better grades in school and have higher IQ scores. Their parents usually perceive them as high-achieving. Birth order and how it impacts personality, intellect and future success is an interesting topic, isn't it?

With "onlies", sibling rivalry is non-existent. Only kids don't have to stick to their roles among their family's siblings. They can develop as they wish to. Also, since they tend to spend a lot of time with their parents, they are exposed to a rich intellectual world at home.

16 They May Feel depressed As Teens


Few people sail through the teen years. Being a teen means dealing with puberty, crushes, academic stress and peer pressure. Only children may find the stress of being a teen more intense and grow depressed as a result. This is because they don't have siblings to turn to for guidance, protection and friendship.

Siblings may be annoying sometimes, but they are close family members who can generally be trusted and teens gather solace from their siblings while they go through ups and downs.

Only children may feel a bit isolated during this part of their lives. For some, the sense of carrying the burdens of the teen years without siblings leads to symptoms of depression.

15 They Aren’t Lonely Like People Think

While kindergarten and the teen years may bring pressure to the lives of only children, they are, overall, not lonely. A doctor who is also a psychologist says that only children aren't lonelier than other kids and that they don't have poorer social skills. This is good news, as more families are becoming "one child" families, due to the high cost of raising a child.

Another issue is that women are tending to have their babies later in life, and may only be able to conceive once, despite efforts to conceive more often. Only children usually get a lot of love at home. This gives them strength to get through the rough patches.

14 They Aren’t Selfish

In the past decades, before scientific studies debunked the myths about only children, they were often perceived as being selfish. Is this because they live with their parents, without needing to share their toys and the TV? Just because they don't need to share at home, except perhaps with Mom and Dad, doesn't mean that they don't want to share. Only children want their friends to like them and part of being liked is about sharing. It's part of treating others well.

So, don't assume that "onlies" are selfish, just because they don't need to share at home. Only children probably get sick of the stereotypes, as the stereotypes just aren't accurate.

13 They Aren’t Spoiled

Whether a child is spoiled or not is more about the parenting style of his or her parents than whether or not the child has siblings. We shape our children's character by teaching them to value things, property and people (not necessarily in that order). Kids who are spoiled are not taught to appreciate what they have. This lack of appreciation often leads to mistreatment of people.

Only children aren't spoiled. Studies prove that growing up without siblings does not raise the risk of being spoiled. It's down to parenting style in the end. All kids have their moments of acting spoiled...and only children don't have more of these moments.

12 They Have Stronger Relationships With Parents

Parents of "onlies" are able to give their children plenty of energy and time, while also having lives of their own. Since only children do spend a lot of time with their parents, they build strong relationships with them.

When parents have more kids, they are spread thinner. They don't have quite as much time to lavish on each child, although most parents are heroic in terms of giving their children as much quality time as they can.

There's no wrong or right way to parent, in terms of how many kids you have. This list is about understanding the facts and debunking the myths. Any family can be happy.

11 They Have Higher IQs As Youngsters, But The Gap Closes Later


Only children tend to show higher intelligence when they are young. Later on, their intelligence quotients level off and are closer to that of their peers who do have siblings. One study showed that being an "only" causes cognitive shifts in the brain of a child. It actually impacts the structure of the brain.

Only children who were tested were more creative and flexible in terms of their thinking. While only kids tend to score high in language processing and perception, they score lower on regulation of emotions, which makes them a bit less agreeable than kids with brothers and sisters.

10 They Are Very Goal-oriented


Harry Potter star, Daniel Radcliffe, is an only child. So is actor, Robert DeNiro. We already discussed Natalie Portman, who is also an "only".

Only children tend to be goal-oriented, which explains why these three famous thespians are such high achievers.

When kids set goals for themselves while they are growing up, they get into a mindset of success. Each goal leads to a new ambition. While life is about more than achieving goals, it's nice to know that only children do want to grab brass rings and make the most of themselves. They are focused on doing well and building on their success.

9 They Talk To Themselves Because They Are On Their Own More

It's not such a shocker than only children talk to themselves more. They need to spend time alone, when Mom and Dad are busy or away, and they find ways to make the time passable and pleasant. While a child shouldn't be talking to him or herself all of the time, this type of activity, in moderation, is imaginative play.

When there's no one else around, only children get creative and talk to themselves to stave off boredom. Very young kids have an easier time focusing on tasks when they talk themselves through the tasks, whether they have siblings or not.

8 They May Not Manage Conflict As Well As Kids With Siblings


Only children do have higher self-esteem, on average, than kids who have siblings, but that doesn't mean that they have social situations mastered. Conflict throws them off, especially when they become adults.

Only children tend to be tough on themselves. When an only child has a conflict, he or she may internalize the situation and self-blame for not handling it better.

To help an only child, teach the value of cooperation early on. These kids have leadership potential, but need to know that there is more to relationships than managing others. They must learn to compromise when it makes sense.

7 They May Get Bullied More At School During Later Grades


Bullies have their own issues. They look for vulnerability and bullying the vulnerable gives them a sense of power that is missing in the rest of their lives. Only children, who don't have siblings to protect them, make easy targets for bullies.

If you have an only child, be sure to keep the lines of communication open during the later grades. Your child is more likely to be bullied in high school, although he or she might not be. It's your job to try and figure out what's happening. Does he or she need help? An only child will want to please you and may hide unpleasant facts about school.

6 They Like Being Only Children

Only children have more space and freedom to think and create. Most of them sincerely enjoy being only children. These kids usually have stronger personalities. They have distinct senses of self. They use their quiet time to dream and plan. They also love being close to their parents, whether they live with both parents or are the children of single parents.

Life as an adult "only" may be a bit more challenging. An only child will need to face life with an aging parent, without siblings to share the burden.

Don't assume that only children aren't happy. They are generally content and don't need any pity, because they enjoy their lives.

5 “Onlies” Have Superb Communication Skills

Only children grow up with adults and not with other children. They communicate with adults and become pretty adept at communication. They are conditioned to communicate on an equal footing with adults quite early on, just because adults are around, rather than brothers and sisters.

Since they hone their communication skills with mature people, they are often very well-spoken, even when they're really little. They sound wise beyond their years, even if they aren't. The communication skills that they develop in their earliest years, before school, help them to express themselves all through their lives. These skills also make them natural born leaders.

4 They Act Mature Because They Mostly Interact With Adults

When you hang out with adults from babyhood until school starts, you're going to model your behavior on adult behavior. Only children have only grown-ups to mimic, so they learn to act mature early on in life. If there were other kids around, they might act very different.

While all of this sounds great, it's important to be aware that only children are sponges who absorb the actions, words, body language and emotions of their parents. There aren't brothers and sisters to act as a buffer. Parents need to remember that their only child is absorbing everything that they do, for better or worse, and try to set a good example at all times.

3 They May Have Imaginary Friends To Keep Them Company

In China, only children are referred to as "little Emperors". As you probably already know, the "one child" rule in China led to the birth of myriad "little Emperors". While the nickname, "little Emperors", tends to reinforce many negative stereotypes about only children, by portraying them as royals who demand the best treatment, only children are still children. They are innocent and often use their high creativity to invent imaginary friends.

Whether an only child invents a little monkey companion that comes along wherever he or she goes, or pretends that a little girl or boy is his imaginary buddy, or anything else, the child is simply filling a need in his or her psyche.

2 They Usually Become "Type A" Adults

Only children tend to be at ease with themselves, and quite focused, and they often develop into Type A individuals. In case you don't know, a Type A person is controlling, impatient, ambitious and competitive. This is in contrast to a Type B person, who has a more relaxed and flexible attitude towards life.

There's no "right" personality type. People are what they are and all have their good and bad points. Type A people do tend to work too much and may feel more stress than Type B people. If you notice that your only child is a perfectionist, look for underlying stress. He or she may be pushing too hard.

1 They Value Privacy And Organization

Only children grow up in homes where they are the "little Emperors". These kids have quiet time when they want it, because there are no brothers and sisters around to make noise and get in their way. They value privacy, as well as organization. They like the sense of sanctuary that they find in their childhood homes.

While these kids need to branch out and embrace different ways of life, there is nothing wrong with them enjoying certain aspects of being only children, including the peaceful vibes in their homes.

Only children bring tons of joy to the lives of their parents and deserve to feel joy, too.

References: Theguardian.com, Bustle.com, Psychologytoday.com, Businessinsider.com, Psychologytoday.com, Thestir.cafemom.com, Parents.com, Shape.com, Sciencealert.com, Vice.com, Telegraph.co.uk,

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