There’s a stereotype surrounding people born without any siblings, and in many cases it’s unfortunately true. Since only children were never forced to share their toys with a sister, split the joy of Christmas morning with a brother or suffer the bruises of a sibling’s beating, they are frequently spoiled. Even into adulthood, they may become disgruntled and frustrated when they can’t have what they want in a social setting.

Socialization is important for any baby, only child or not. Though your baby won’t actually begin to successfully interact with others until he is 2 years old, humans are social creatures from the very beginning. At three months, you’ll notice that your baby starts to react to people and events around him. At seven months, he’ll actually start to take interest in them. He’ll be okay around other babies, but he won’t necessarily play with them.

At one year, you might think you’ve taken a step back in the process, because your baby will suddenly be overly attached to you. This is natural, and it’s called separation anxiety. It will go away by the time your baby is two. After that, the socialization will really begin. This is when your child will start to learn from those around him, which is usually a great thing.

Though your baby can’t actually host a conversation with his 3-month-old counterparts at daycare for the first time, he will certainly still benefit from the stimulation. If your baby isn’t exposed to the sounds and the actions other babies, he won’t be able to pick up on their behavior and let it mold his own. If your baby is an only child, he won’t learn how to share toys or even share time when the caregiver needs to tend to someone else. If you want an only child that doesn’t act like an only child, I highly recommend some good old-fashioned socialization. You can get this in a variety of ways. Play dates are great, but are nowhere near enough. Daycare works well for most children, and getting your child involved in organized activities from an early age is also a great strategy. Whatever you can do to stimulate their social side will also be great for the brain in the long-run.

Source: Laura Ahearn. Language Acquisition and Socialization. Living Language: An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology. April 2011

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