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Roundup: What research says about only children

If siblings help your health, what about only children?

Studies show that children raised with siblings reap physical and emotional health advantages all through their lives. Does that mean only-children miss out? Not at all. Parents just have to work a little harder to make sure only children get plenty of peer interaction. Here are some articles on “onlys.” 1) Only children have a lot in common with sibling-rich children. The results of hundreds of personality studies suggest that only children are generally like children with siblings in most personality dimensions, including autonomy, generosity, and cooperativeness. The over-all conclusion is that only children are no more selfish, lonely, or maladjusted than people who grow up with siblings. 2) Why only children rule. In this Newsweek article, Kathleen Deveny traces the only-child bias to 1896, when psychologist G. Stanley Hall conducted a study of rural families and concluded that only-children were at a sharp social disadvantage and that “being an only child is a disease in itself.” Her conclusion: Hall was wrong. 3) Support for only children and their parents. This New York Times article is about getting support for only children and their families through groups, Web sites and magazines. 4) Only children: the drawbacks. This article delivers some of the bad news: Only children often feel more pressure to succeed, knowing that their parents have all their eggs in one basket. It’s easy for them to fast-forward through childhood at an unusually rapid pace because they spend so much of their time with their parents and other adults. They miss out on the unique interplay between siblings.
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