Friday, July 28, 2006

An only child

Not like me at all.
The only child is self-assured from all that attention and selfcritical from all that scrutiny; sure of his opinion but loth to raise his voice to make it heard.


Heather Jones, the head of Highclare junior school, says of the only children in her care, "We don't notice a difference in terms of them being bossy or selfish. Their concentration span is greater because they're used to sitting down and completing something. They are more confident in their relationships with adults. They are self-assured and articulate. They are oversensitive sometimes, and some of the parents of only children do ..." she struggles to be diplomatic, "...overreact to things the girls say have happened at playtime, whereas the parents of bigger families aren't so focused on the troubles of one little person."

"I think if you've got older brothers or sisters, you take the knocks," says Georgina's mother, Gill. "They say awful things to you and you walk away and forget it. Whereas with Georgina, a week doesn't go by when I don't get her off the bus and she says, you'll never guess what so-and-so said to me."

"Everything is very serious when you're an only child," Joanna says. "If you get a criticism, it's the end of the world - it's a disaster. Things reach a crisis very quickly over relatively minor things. You're the apple of everybody's eye, and so when somebody says something nasty, you take it to heart."

There is the problem of perfectionism; only children are always comparing themselves to people who are bigger and more accomplished and it can introduce a kind of precocious performance anxiety. During school assembly, Joanna says, Martha gets very anxious about other children not knowing their lines. "She will take on accountability for things that are really nothing to do with her."
Especially not that last bit...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"You're the apple of everybody's eye, and so when somebody says something nasty, you take it to heart."

Well, that's me to a 'T'! An only child, war baby, no dad (sob!) - you should be more careful in future, Lisa, what you say about me, really you should.