The Power of Birth Order

Special Order

Experts weigh in on what you should know if you've got a singleton or twins.

All in One
You've probably heard that "lonely onlies" grow up selfish and socially inept. Not true, says Dr. Frank Sulloway: "Only kids learn people skills from their parents and peers." In fact, most only children turn out to be movers and shakers with similar traits to firstborns: They're ambitious and articulate. And since they spend so much time with their parents, they're comfortable interacting with adults. The downside: Onlies may have difficulty relating to kids their own age. "So make sure your child spends time with his peers from early on," says Dr. Michelle Maidenberg. Sign him up for playgroups, sports teams, and other organized activities -- so he's guaranteed lots of kid time.

Double Happiness
Even if they have other sibs, twins (and other multiples) generally grow up as an entity unto themselves -- because that's how others see them, says Dr. Kevin Leman. The firstborn twin typically acts as the older child in the twosome, while the secondborn will have traits of a younger sib. Outside of their relationship, however, they often get lumped together as "the twins." This can be a source of frustration when twins get older and each seeks to carve out an individual identity. So encourage your duo to develop their own passions. While they might prefer to do things together, it's important for each kid to establish his or her own interests and personality.

What You Need to Know About Your Only Child
What You Need to Know About Your Only Child

Originally published in the October 2010 issue of Parents magazine.

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