The Various Theories of Being an Only Child Essay

The Various Theories of Being an Only Child Essay

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The Various Theories of Being an Only Child

This paper is going to show two of the various theories of being an only child. These theories come from a famous psychologist known as Burrhus Frederic Skinner and a psychology major at Northwestern University known as Alissa D. Eischens. But first it will mention the stereotypes given to the “only child” from an outsider’s point of view, then two cases that describe different childhood experiences that they had as an “only child” and how they dealt with it. Then it will go on and discuss a few statistics.

The only child is automatically judged by people. We assume that their selfish, anxious, not fun to be associated with, difficult when it comes to making their way in a world that doesn’t centrally evolve around them. When an outsider is asked to describe the characteristics of an only child they will most likely respond with they are “spoiled brats.” They get all of the attention they want from their parents because there aren’t any brothers or sisters to compete with. However, only children seem to have a better self-esteem and are higher achievers. Not to mention their personalities vary greatly. Not having siblings around telling them what’s right or wrong to do by their standards allow the child to think on their own, without help from anyone other than their parents. (Sifford, pg 13)

Here’s a case of one adult that remembers sharply about growing up as an only child. This person blames a lot of their issues on being an only child. The lack of peer interaction, and the great amounts of adult contact created a proneness to loneliness, selfishness, pride, and the need of belonging and approval. They never had to share and everything that their parent owned was also considered hers. She didn’t have to learn to share until a much older age than most kids with siblings. She never had to experience a brother or sister borrowing or simply taking items and losing, breaking, or simply not returning to them to her. The thing she remembers most about being a child was her loneliness. One specific case was when she over-heard her parents arguing one night when they thought she was asleep. The word divorce was briefly mentioned and she didn’t have anyone there to cry with or talk to. Occasionally her cousins would spend the night, but she never confided in them and waited until they left to show her real emot...


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...sex. A little boy may play with dolls and not think anything of it. Oppose to if the boy had an older sister or an older brother to tell the child that playing with dolls was “girly.” The child may never pick up the doll again. The extrovert characteristic will appear in a more social setting. The child is more desperate for the for the friendships children of their age, than with siblings of all different ages. (Eischens, The Dilemma of the Only Child. 3/05)

I grew up with an older brother and at times of course I wished that I was the only child, but as we grew older, we have both learned to almost depend on each other under different circumstances. We look out for each other in the long run and were there for each other during hard times. Our parents went through a divorce when we were both much younger and we had each other. We both have a couple friends that are the only child and they do fit both of the theories mentioned by Skinner and Eischens. I have taken into consideration that these theories do not apply to every child that is an only child, just a majority. Children react different to different situations, regardless if they have a brother or sister their or not.

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