17 Telling Personality Traits of Someone Who Grew Up an Only Child

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By Darryl Henderson

Growing up as an only child can have a profound effect on your personality. If you’re used to never sharing attention, space, or time with siblings, it may result in certain traits as an adult—for better or for worse! Here are 17 telling personality traits of an only child.

Extreme Independence

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Independence is undoubtedly a positive trait, but in an only child, it can often result in a little too much independence. Those children who never had to share or compromise with siblings may develop a “my way or the highway” attitude later in life, which can be pretty uncompromising.

They Can Be Over-Achievers

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Being an only child means you can focus on your own accomplishments without feeling competitive with your siblings, although it may also be because your parents expect more of you. Overachieving can result in a more successful life, but “it can also take a toll on our physical and mental health,” says Verywell Mind.

Higher Sensitivity

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Most people who grew up with siblings would agree that they had their fair share of teasing, helping to develop a thick skin that an only child might not have. Sadly, this means that those who never faced criticism from siblings may end up being overly sensitive to negative feedback in adulthood.

Unlikely to Ask for Help

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An only child has had to develop a high sense of self-sufficiency from an early age; it’s all they’ve ever known. This can mean that in adulthood, they’re unlikely to ask anyone else for help if they need it because they’re so used to dealing with everything themselves.

They Value Alone Time

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Being an only child means that you’re used to solitude—in a good way. You have peace and quiet to concentrate on your pastimes and studies without being interrupted by an annoying sibling. This can often manifest as craving alone time as adults, which can be healthy or excessive.

Wisdom Beyond Years

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Growing up as an only child can often see you developing wisdom faster than other children, as you’ll spend more time with adults due to the lack of child siblings. Healthline claims that someone with an “old soul” possesses high levels of empathy, a lack of concern for material possessions, and meaningful relationships.

They Can Entertain Themselves

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The absence of brothers or sisters to play with in childhood can mean that an only child very quickly develops a talent for entertaining themselves. In adulthood, this can mean you have no qualms about spending time alone and finding things to do without feeling bored.

Admitting Fault Can Be Difficult

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Playing the blame game is a key part of growing up with siblings, but an only child doesn’t have the opportunity to blame wrongdoing on siblings. This can mean they often struggle to admit mistakes in adulthood because they feel a lot of blame is always placed on their shoulders alone, which is sad.

A Close Relationship with Parents

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It’s no surprise that an only child is likely to have a stronger relationship with their parents due to the quality time spent alone together when growing up. However, only children can become overly attached to their parents because they are the only family in their childhood household.

They Might Not Be Willing to Share

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Growing up with brothers and sisters means learning the hard way what it means to share, whether that’s a home, toys, or a room. Unless parents have strictly taught children how to share openly, an only child may struggle with that idea if they’ve never had to, making school tough for them.

Compromise Doesn’t Come Easy

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In the same way that sharing can be difficult, learning how to compromise can be difficult, too. It’s rare for an only child to have to compromise due to a lack of siblings, so in adulthood, they may have limited experience with what it means to meet someone in the middle!

They’re Often Creative Thinkers

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According to Psychology Today, thinking outside the box often manifests from spending time with people who challenge you and getting out of your comfort zone. Only children are more likely to do this because they’re used to being around their parents while also depending on themselves to show initiative and think creatively.

Needing Validation

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Adults who grew up as only children often need a lot more validation than others. This can be because they were so used to receiving all of their parents’ positive feedback when they were growing up, leading to them constantly fishing for compliments in their adult lives.

It May Take Longer for Them to Trust People

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Being an only child may mean that it takes you longer to trust and like people when you get older. Because you spent so much time in your own space and solitude as an only child, you might not be overly dependent on others, therefore choosing relationships more carefully and patiently.

They’re Highly Successful (or Strive to Be)

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A common misconception is that growing up with siblings makes you more competitive and gives you a yearning for success, but this isn’t true. An only child is just as likely to crave success, feeling that it is their sole responsibility to make their parents proud. 

Strong Self-Esteem

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Due to growing up without having to compare themselves to siblings, an only child can often develop great self-esteem later in life. Thanks to positive reinforcement from their parents it can instill confidence in adulthood, shown through secure relationships and assertiveness, defines Weber State University.

Signs of Being Spoiled

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Lastly, it’s up for debate whether an only child is more spoiled than others. This entirely depends on the parents, but it’s common for an only child to act more spoiled than those with siblings due to never having to share. However, you should never assume this based solely on the common stereotype because everyone is different!

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