'Only child' stereotype is unfair

I am pleased that for Mr Oo Gin Lee, having more children was a happy experience ("Greatest gift to give your child is a sibling or two"; Dec 28, 2015). However, I disagree with the stereotype of the only child as "spoilt and self-centred".

The stereotype smacks of pop psychology and the so-called "birth order theory", which remains controversial in the field of psychology.

Children with siblings may learn early the importance of sharing and living harmoniously with others, but a child's path through life is shaped through his many experiences, both within and outside of his immediate family.

An only child may well learn the same things from other sources, including extended family and close friends.

Why is it acceptable to disparage a child who does not have siblings, but not children who do?

Children with siblings are less likely to have the privacy and silence for introspection or to interact with grown-ups at their level, but we do not therefore automatically conclude that they are likely to be shallow and frivolous, and incapable of being alone.

We hesitate - and rightly so - to make generalisations about people based solely on their culture of origin. We should extend the same courtesy to children and resist making assumptions about their character based on a single data point.

Rachel Eileen Poon Hiu Mun (Ms)