Most parents of my generation have at least one or two siblings. However, for whatever reasons known best to them, many of those same parents have decided to have only one child. I am raising an only child, while I have two siblings. There are days when I am happy with my choice and then there are days when I wish she had siblings to play and fight with. Because I have learnt that raising a single child is no walk in the park; it comes with its own set of concerns. Here are 8 lessons for parents raising a single child or who are contemplating raising an only child.
Make your child independent – Without a younger sibling to look after, most parents think they should try their utmost to make their kids comfortable. That means they continue doing chores for their child even when he is old enough to do them himself. So instead of setting his school bag, parents would do it for him or decide which clothes the child should wear. Love is a good reason for helping your child, but not good enough to make him dependant on you for basic chores too. Click To TweetHe has to, one day, step out in the real world where you won’t be around setting things right for him.
Don’t be blind to your child’s faults – One of the only child problems is that parents don’t readily accept that their child is anything less than perfect. She might be an only child and the apple of your eye, but she is still a child and vulnerable to all age-specific behaviour. She can throw a tantrum, bully other kids, lie and steal – these are some of the behaviour traits kids show and it is alright. However, believing that your only child cannot exhibit these traits or ignoring them is not alright. Acknowledge and accept your child’s fault and shortcomings and deal with them to the best of your knowledge.
Enrol in extracurricular activities – Raising an only child can be physically and mentally draining. There are no siblings to take the focus away from you or make things easier for you. Enrol your child in a few extracurricular activities that challenge him physically and mentally. These classes will also give him the opportunity to make new friends and interact with people his age.
Spend one on one time with your child – Single child means you won’t have to worry about sibling rivalry or fights. However, having a sibling ensures that your child always has a playmate ready. Give more time to your child so that he is not lonely. – talk to him about his day and what is happening in his life. You have the opportunity to be close to your child which sometimes might not happen with multiple kids in the house. Try to remember how much quality time you parents gave you when you were a child.
Teach your child to share – My daughter refused to share her toys and candies with others. She assumed what came into the house was automatically hers and hers alone. We knew we had to change this mindset. So we asked her to share things with us, her nanny and her friends. Initially she was not comfortable, but when she saw her parents sharing with each other, she learnt. Also, some wisdom comes with age. As they grow up, they realise that when they don’t share, their friends are not willing to play with them. And the consequence is that they would be playing alone.
Encourage your child to read – In our residential building, there are 30 apartments, but only four kids. With one child being the norm these days, you will hardly find many children playing in the apartment complex. With fewer neighbours to play, encourage your child to read and make friends with books. I believe that a child who likes to read books is never alone. Click To Tweet
Stick to your rules – With one child you might not think about setting a dinner table and end up eating in front of the television or don’t think twice before changing your clothes before her. But don’t let that happen. Rules are rules – whether you have one or multiple children in the house. Rules hold discipline in the house, if you let the rules become slack, it might confuse the child.
Invest in your future – Most parents raising an only child worry about their future. They either worry something might happen to their child or worry what will happen when they grow old. It is not unusual to tie your hopes and dreams to your single child, but it is certainly not healthy. Click To Tweet
- Be practical. You cannot live in a constant fear of what might happen.
- Invest in yourself and your future.
- Shape your career.
- Exercise and keep yourself healthy.
- Create a good circle of friends and engage in a hobby.
Things to do while raising a single child:
- Expand your social circle. Arrange play dates for your child. It will help him enhance his social skills.
- Bring home a pet, if possible, for your child. Pets can prove to be wonderful companions for your child.
- Let your child play alone for a while. Playing alone is not a punishment; it opens up his imagination and creative skills. Click To Tweet
- With no siblings, encourage your child to forge deeper and meaningful relations with his neighbours and classmates. You don’t always have to be related by blood to have long lasting relationships.
- Parents become very cautious when they have a single child. Avoid following your kids like a shadow. Let them live their life their way.
Hope the above 8 Lessons help you in raising a happy and independent single child.
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