All little kids are selfish -- not just only children.

Does Being an Only Child Tend to Make a Child Spoiled?

by Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell

Your only child is the apple of your eye, but does that mean you'll spoil her rotten? Good news: Only children are no more spoiled than those with siblings, according to experts. The stereotypical image of an unruly only child always kicking, screaming and shouting her way through the grocery store is a myth -- and so is the notion that an only child is more likely to grow up feeling lonely.

Let Go of the Stimga

Let untrue offhanded comments about your only child roll off your back. Friends, family members and even strangers may ask if your son or daughter is your "only" child in a tone usually reserved for asking whether someone is ill. You may sense that the asker feels sorry your little one because he doesn't have a sibling. Other concerned or inquisitive folks might imply that your one and only must be spoiled with material things or constant attention. Your best bet is to ignore these comments -- and keep your fingers crossed that your child doesn't throw a tantrum around these nosy questioners.

Expert Insight

Toddlers and preschoolers who are only children are no more spoiled than children with siblings, according to Susan Newman, a social psychologist, parenting expert, and author of "The Case for the Only Child: Your Essential Guide." An only child also makes friends just as easily as kids with siblings, Newman adds. Your special tot doesn't need a brother or sister to learn to get along with others. Time spent with parents, neighborhood pals, daycare friends and preschool classmates will do the trick.

Normal Selfishness and Tantrums

Don't jump to the conclusion that your toddler or preschooler's occasional tantrum is a symptom of being an only child. The vast majority of 2- and 3-year-olds are famous for their emotional outbursts whether or not they have siblings. Young kids in general are self-absorbed, don't want to wait their turn and would rather not share, notes It's unfair to pin these negative traits on being an only child when all kids go through this disagreeable stage -- and usually turn out just fine.

Keep Your Only Active

Feeling guilty that your only child is isolated because he doesn't have a brother or sister is a waste of energy. An only child isn't necessarily any lonelier than a child with a houseful of siblings, according to WebMD. There are plenty of ways to expose your only tot to other children. Enroll your child in sports activities, dance classes or swimming lessons where he can interact with other kids and learn something at the same time. Inviting neighborhood friends over can give your tot time outside of a formal setting to play with others.

About the Author

Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell is a broadcast journalist who began writing professionally in 1980. Her writing focuses on parenting and health, and has appeared in “Spirituality & Health Magazine" and “Essential Wellness.” Hellesvig-Gaskell has worked with autistic children at the Fraser School in Minneapolis and as a child care assistant for toddlers and preschoolers at the International School of Minnesota, Eden Prairie.

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