Only Children Don't Lack Social Skills

ATLANTA, Aug. 16 (UPI) — Children without siblings do not appear to lack social skills because of opportunities to interact in and outside school, U.S. researchers say.

Study co-author Donna Bobbitt-Zeher, assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State University’s Marion campus, and Douglas Downey, professor of sociology at Ohio State, say they came to that conclusion after studying 13,000 middle and high school students across the country.


The researchers used data from the National Study of Adolescent Health, which provided students in grades 7-12 at more than 100 schools nationwide in the 1994-95 academic year with a roster of all the students in the school and to identify up to five male and five female friends.

The students were considered friends by an average of five schoolmates, whether the student had siblings or was an only child, Bobbitt-Zeher says.

“I don’t think anyone has to be concerned that if you don’t have siblings, you won’t learn the social skills you need to get along with other students in high school,” Bobbitt-Zeher said in a statement.

“Anyone who didn’t have that peer interaction at home with siblings gets a lot of opportunities to develop social skills as they go through school.”

The researchers are presenting their research Monday in Atlanta at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.

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