Here is an interesting article and the start of some research from 17 year old Alexandra Baker whose own experience has inspired her to do a project on only child stereotyping. If you want to take part click the link below!
Link to the survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/6HJDBWZ
Alexandra says: As an only child, I have been intrigued (and often angered!) by the comments made by others who say all only children are lonely spoiled brats who are unable to share. Where has this unfair presumption come from? I am a 17-year-old student from the UK and my first-hand experience of such negative comments has inspired me to undertake a project (Extended Project Qualification) looking into only children and how they are viewed by others. Through my project I hope to show that only children don’t deserve such unfair stereotyping.
I’m sure many only children have overheard people talking about only children and heard them being described as ‘spoiled’, ‘lonely’ and ‘not able to share’. If only children got paid for every time someone said: ‘You’re an only child! You must be so spoiled!’, they could retire at 18!
Personally I feel that such comments could show the unfortunate reality that only children are the victims of a negative stereotypical view, which can often undermine their true personalities. I have often heard people complain about someone’s behaviour and at the same time comment on that person’s lack of siblings, as if both are linked. For example, I once heard someone say:
‘She is so desperate to be the best. It’s because she’s an only child and her parents have showered her in praise all her life and so she believes that she should always be better than everyone else.’
People often link someone acting selfishly as a result of being an only child – but isn’t everyone guilty of acting selfishly on occasions? For some reason many people are happy to blame an out-of-character action on the person being an only child, when, if it happened to someone with siblings, they wouldn’t necessarily link it to them having a certain number of siblings. For me, this shows how people often link being an only child to unpleasant behaviour.
People are often shocked when I say I’m an only child because, according to them, I don’t fit the typical personality of an only child. In order to be an only child I apparently have to show signs of being selfish and over-indulged. In their eyes, an only child who is modestly brought up, aware of the feelings of others and is able to share is a complete anomaly.
Such personal experience has inspired me to look into the personalities of only children and explore whether a stereotypical view of only children does exist. I also want to investigate whether the stereotype is justified and whether, if being honest about themselves, only children would say that they fit the stereotype.
Only Child Syndrome has emerged as the term commonly used to describe stereotypical negative social traits of only children, however I feel that Only Child Syndrome is mainly a way for people to label only children in a negative way. For me personally, the term ‘Only Child Syndrome’ is the term ‘stereotype’ in disguise. If only children were to think critically about their personalities, would many genuinely say they were selfish, spoiled and unable to mix with others? Some may disagree, and perhaps Only Child Syndrome only affects particular only children, but I’m sure many only children would struggle to diagnose themselves with such an affliction. However, it still continues that in the eyes of many people with siblings, the symptoms of Only Child Syndrome are highly contagious and rife amongst people with no siblings.
I am very interested in your opinion of whether, as an only child, you believe that the stereotypes are a justified representation of you. I have built a survey, in which only children are able to describe their personalities, using the adjectives which have gained the most and the least response in my earlier survey for children with siblings. I hope this will determine whether or not the preconceptions accurately describe only children and I would very much appreciate it if you would be able to participate. The survey is hosted online and is completely anonymous – Link to the survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/6HJDBWZ