National Only Child Day – April 12, 2023

Not having siblings is your ticket to celebrate National Only Child Day on April 12. This holiday’s very special for those of us who don’t have a brother or sister and grew up as an individual child. National Only Child Day is especially apt because, in recent years, the number of only children has gradually risen, not just in the U.S. but over the globe as well. We think the date chosen for this event is perfect too because it comes right after Siblings Day on April 10, during which the sibling-less would have been left out.

History of National Only Child Day

Before population control was a necessity, people rarely had just one child. In fact, having more than one kid was considered prudent given that the death rate in infants was very high. So, if you look closely at historical records, only-child families were very uncommon all over the world in the early days.

Then, sometime during the 10th century, populations over the world began to exhibit a change. The average family size shrunk down to only one child. While pinpointing a particular cause for this decline in birth rates is near impossible, researchers and academicians theorize that it might have been a combination of various factors like the World Wars, the rise in living costs, and the higher standard of living. As children started living longer lives, and as the cost of raising a child went up drastically, the size of many families reduced to accommodate this new normal. The trend continued in more and more developed countries, until, country-by-country, nation-by-nation, and one-child homes became a common sight.

There is another key factor at play in the rise of ‘only children’ — the negative perception attached to these ‘onlies’ is slowly being debunked. The negative association started almost 100 years ago, with American psychologist Granville Stanley Hall, who declared that being an only child was “being an only child is a disease in itself.” He’d labeled only children as ‘indulgent’ and ‘spoiled.’ While his claims had zero evidence to back them up, they still became a worldwide phenomenon, to the extent that some people still believe the stereotype today.

A counter to these theories has been the world conducted in the late 1800s and early 1900s on only children, including various academic articles that counterchecked Hall’s — and others’ — claims that single children did not measure up to other kids. Whether because of finances, the environment, or another reason, more families are staying in a one-child home, and with it, establishing a new-ish, rich, family dynamic.

National Only Child Day timeline

1953
Post-War Recuperation

After the Korean War, the South Korean government suggests its citizens would be better off financially if they had only one child.

1987
What the Research Says

The first large-scale research on the effects of not having siblings by Denise F. Polit and Toni Falbo reveals that only children are, in fact, not disadvantaged in any way when compared to kids with siblings.

2014
Only-Child Families Double in the U.S.

Pew Research says that, compared to 1970, in 2014, a whopping 22% of women in the 40 — 44 age bracket have given birth to only one child.

2016
A Poem About Only Children

American poet Billy Collins publishes “The Rain in Portugal: Poems,” which includes a poem, ‘Only Child,’ celebrating his status as an only child.

National Only Child Day FAQs

Is it uncommon to be an only child?

Being an only child is not an uncommon phenomenon at all, and modern science suggests more and more families are having only one child per generation.

What is the only child syndrome?

Only child syndrome is a perception — an untrue one — that children growing up without siblings are more selfish, less social, and spoiled as adults.

What is special about being an only child?

There are lots of reasons to celebrate being an only child, including the undivided attention from family, closer bonds with parents, the independence of it all, and an excess of resources to give you an educational edge.

National Only Child Day Activities

  1. Celebrate only children's individual qualities

    For all those only children out there, remind yourselves how perfect you are. Reminisce about your childhood as an 'only' and share this experience with others. If you're not an only child yourself, how about wishing all the single kids a happy National Only Child Day?

  2. Remove the 'only-child' misconception

    If you are an only child or are raising one, do your best to reduce the negative stereotype attached to single kids. Show people only kids are not socially backward, inept at dealing with others, or selfish.

  3. Connect with other only children

    It's always great to meet people with similar likes, interests, and experiences. Talk to other only children you know to compare notes on how similar and dissimilar your childhood was. You can also open a dialogue about how people have viewed only children, and what you can do to change this perception.

5 Cool Facts About The Only Child

  1. Plenty of famous people were only children

    Adele, Leonardo DiCaprio, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Leonardo da Vinci, and Robin Williams have all grown up without siblings.

  2. Poking fun at only child-ness

    American icon and entertainer Betty White once joked that in her childhood, she had been the “happiest only child in captivity” with lots of four-legged siblings.

  3. Only kids could be smarter than average

    That's because, according to research, they spend more time on their homework, are better at studies, and get better grades too.

  4. They often talk to themselves

    One study found only children talk to themselves much more than those with siblings, likely because onlies spend more time by themselves.

  5. Only children love being the 'only'

    In multiple bodies of research, only children have reported being very happy with their independence, and they enjoy entertaining themselves too.

Why We Love National Only Child Day

  1. Only children get a celebration too

    If we've got Siblings Day, Parents Day, e.t.c., why not a day celebrating another essential family member — the only child? With National Only Child Day, there truly is a day for everyone.

  2. We're beating back the negative stereotypes

    Only children are not what popular opinion says they are. And what better way to show it than a public celebration of their individual-ness?

  3. It celebrates strength and independence

    A key characteristic of only children is their strong sense of independence, which academicians put down to growing up without siblings. National Only Child Day not only highlights their numbers but also celebrates this unique quality of only children.

National Only Child Day dates

YearDateDay
2022April 12Tuesday
2023April 12Wednesday
2024April 12Friday
2025April 12Saturday
2026April 12Sunday

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