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She is an only child. Does this make a difference?

My fifteen year old daughter has always had problems with making and keeping friends. Its heart breaking when she never gets invitations to parties or sleep-overs. Is it too late to help her? She is an only child, does this make a difference?


Hi S.,

The fact that your daughter is an only child does make a difference, but not a BIG one. Because only children do not have siblings with whom to interact, they learn to be children on their own and become very self-sufficient. Parents can help, but ultimately children become conditioned to depend on themselves. Although this self-sufficiency can have its benefits, it can also mean that only children are inherently alone as their personalities develop.

Only children must develop in social situations that may not be suited to their personalities. An only child's environment forces her to take on characteristics of extraversion despite natural inclinations toward introversion. A naturally introverted child must show extraverted qualities if she wishes to make friends. But take heart, the development of extraverted qualities can be learned, and with time, an element of extroversion becomes habit.

Of course, very few humans are strictly extraverted or introverted. To call an only child “introverted” would be to imply that the child developed into his/her natural tendency toward that certain personality type with little influence from the environment.

Nonetheless, environment forces the only child to struggle against his/her natural tendencies in order to function normally. Perhaps this struggle helps explain some of the common characteristics that emerge among only children, such as the tendency to not participate in many activities, but leading the ones in which they do participate. An only child tends to be more conscientious, more socially dominant, less agreeable, and less open to new ideas compared to the child who has siblings.

Therefore, she can choose to practice “approaching people” …she can practice speaking to people …and she can practice being interested in what others say and do. This will feel very abnormal at first, but with time, it will become habit. She can choose to have time alone – and she can choose to have times where she is “a part of” rather than “separate from.”

Here's to a better home environment,

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