No siblings could mean a happier child

Ingy Deif, Tuesday 14 Dec 2010

Thinking of having a second son or daughter? Drop the idea! No siblings could mean a happier child

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

No one will argue that parents who choose to have more than one child always have in the back of their mind that a brother or sister will certainly make their until-then-only child a happier and more contented one.

It is almost common sense in Egyptian society as it is world-wide, and that's why the results of the biggest social study conducted in Britain, and published by the Economic and Social Research Council, will come cause quite a stir in our understanding of the nature of children’s psychology.

The research tracked the lives of 100,000 people in 40,000 households and is one of the widest-ranging research projects on family life conducted in Europe.

It reveals that an only child has a higher probability  of having a contented upbringing, citing sibling bullying, lack of privacy, belongings taken from them and being called hurtful names as part of the problems that children with siblings have to confront.

Give them enough room

When it comes to the impact of having a brother or sister  it is very important to note that extra pressure is always cast upon parents who find themselves in the position of a  referee, constantly having to judge between their children.

"It is true," agrees Dr Nadia Nazir, neuro-psychiatrist and psychologist. "But it is always important to remember that our old social beliefs are not all incorrect, an only child has his own set of problems if parents are not aware enough to tackle them properly and at the right time”.

“He could grow up to be selfish or intolerant, while siblings can be a source of joy and support. It is important to note that when parents plan to have another baby, they should discuss the event with the child and show him examples of happy siblings in other families. Then they must maintain boundaries that ensure each sibling has a certain level of privacy regarding possessions and time, thus giving him enough room to be creative and self-appreciative.” Nazir explained.

“ Regarding quarrelling and fights, it is important that parents act on two levels: first setting fixed rules that apply no matter what mood the parent and wherever the child is whether he is at home or visiting grandparents for instance, thus implying a sense of integrity and harmony," she maintains.

These findings may come as a relief to parents already feeling guilty about the lack of brothers and sisters. A lot of newly-married couples in Egypt have already made a conscious decision to have only one child, due to the suffocating economic circumstances we live in,  and findings such as these will provide some support.

More parents are becoming aware that certain psychological aspects should be taken care of regarding levels of conflict between siblings and seek advice if necessary.   

“Ensuring children have a special place for their belongings and insist that they ask if they want to use something owned by another,” advises Nazir.

She continues, “Show them firmly that you do not approve of bullying behaviour, and don't be too quick to blame even if one child looks innocent. Finally, engage them in activities they all love, thus creating a happy atmosphere and a base for fond memories”

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