How to bring up your ONLY child . PART 3
The question is - who are you raising? A child or a sibling? If you are raising a child, the ingredients remain the same irrespective of age or siblings around. One may have a few add-ons or subtractions. The basic ingredient of raising any child remains the same. Does it change if you have two in your house? You still want them to be kind, sensitive, courageous, and grateful. Don't you?
Haven't you heard of a spoiled younger child? You indulge any child; the child will get spoilt. Personality traits of stubborn vs. flexible, sociable vs. private, ambitious vs. content are all influenced by a variety of factors, and the existence/influence of a sibling is a tiny part. The problem is not in the child but your behavior towards him.
Let's look at the variety of accusations handed over to the single child and see how the single child can emerge a winner here with the support of parents, extended family, and friends.
Undoubtedly, the single child gets a double dose of love. Having a single child means you can give undivided time and love to your kid. At the same time, raising a single kid becomes more economical as parents do not need to compromise on their aspirations for their child and can still provide the best of everything. And here comes the much-needed BALANCE.
Raising confident onlies, but don't push too hard.
In many cases, when a child has a sibling, he/she may suffer from the negative impact of sibling rivalry, leading to insecurity or competition. But with a single child, there are higher chances of the kid turning out to be confident and self-sufficient. This, in turn, results in them being better achievers and extroverts with adequate social skills, quite suited for this age's cut-throat competitive world. "Single kids generally excel in whatever they do because of the undivided attention and financial resource for better education. Since many onlies are verbally precocious and high achievers at an early age, it's sometimes hard to know what behavior is age-appropriate for them. It's also difficult to know when you're pushing too hard and when you're not pushing enough. By the age of 7 or 8, only children are like little adults. In their opinion, kids their own age are immature. Slow down, and make sure your only child has a childhood.
Don't ask for perfection.
For most only children, perfectionism seems to go with the territory. Only children want so much to please their parents, and because they peer with adults, they take on adult standards, says Carl E. Pickhardt, Ph.D., author of Keys to Parenting an Only Child. While it's fine to want the best for your child, it's important not to make your goals and anxieties his.
Since onlies often receive parental approval for their many successes (or even their attempts), parents need to explain that their love is not conditioned on the child's performance.
No sibling, no sharing (Even with siblings, sharing is such a concern.... isn’t it?)
With all the love showered upon a single child, he/she might be very possessive about his/her belongings as well as relationships. Due to the undivided attention that a single child gets, there is a high possibility that he/she might take more time to learn fundamental aspects of sharing and giving. Parents have to make extra efforts to spend more time with the child, as the child usually has no one to share his feelings with and express his emotions with till he or she learns to do that with friends later. Give only children the opportunity to interact with other kids. Social activities need to be engineered more for only children, even as early as 18 months of age, Options for child socializing include: Preschool, Special classes, and playdates.
Playdates should be scheduled both in the child's home, where she has to share her toys and her parent's attention and at a friend's home, where she has to follow the lead of her peer. Also, be sure to orchestrate playtime with kids your child's age since onlies often gravitate toward older or younger children.
It can get lonely sometimes. Get friends and help him learn to earn friends.
One of the main reasons parents opt for a second kid is to ensure that their child doesn't get lonely and has someone to support and care for him/her throughout their life. However, those with single children find alternative ways to ensure that their kids enjoy the same amount of interaction as they would have with their siblings. Develop their passion. Not just a hobby but a passion, and that goes for every child. Be it music, painting, or tennis, or activity outside the realms of academics is therapeutic in nature and one of the best ways to oneself in.
Parents should make an effort to expand their circle of friends and give importance to maintaining good relations with their extended family. Try to plan holidays together amidst company. As a result, the child will learn to make friends and will a big friend circle. They can spend time at each other's house during weekends and play together in the evening. From the time they turn two, teach your child concepts of sharing and giving through stories, gameplay, etc. Encourage more interactions within the family and outside by inviting play dates so that the child can enhance his/her social skills.
Spend as much time as you can with your kid to make sure that he/she is not lonely. Bring home a pet if your child feels very lonely, as pets provide companionship and often fill in the role of a virtual sibling. It's important to experience extended family love. Grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins are all an important part of growing up. It's your responsibility to help your child be part of that extended family. It would require your participation and involvement, and it would be worth your efforts.
Teach your child social skills. Only children don't benefit from the rough-and-tumble of sibling relationships. Still, they can learn about these (losing a game, waiting a turn, joining a group, etc.) through peer interaction. To help children succeed in social situations, parents should:
- Encourage making friends, playing in groups, demonstrate by example how to share, compromise, and show consideration for others.
- Reward children when they're being considerate and administer consequences when they aren't.
Don't give in to all their demands. While you may be financially capable, giving in to all they demand will set them for disappointment later in life. Though he/she is your only child, don't spoil them by giving in to all their demands. Set your expectations and ensure that your child understands the consequences of irresponsible actions. Keep gifts in check. Experts warn that when onlies are bombarded with gifts and their every wish is fulfilled, they get the message, "I always get what I want."
Parents need to realize that it's not the gifts that matter; it's time spent with the child that matters. Don't overindulge your child. During early childhood, an only child's expressions of need are responded to quickly. In contrast, children with siblings need to "wait in line" to have their needs met. And learning how to wait is a vital lesson for life.
To prevent only children from developing an attitude of "What I want, I get," parents should ensure that the child learns the difference between needs, wants, and desires. Parents should intentionally delay gratification so that the child realizes the value of it. Too soon become boring too soon. Household rules should be clearly set and adhered to, and discipline should be instilled, and expectations set. Just because he is your only child does not mean he is the king of the world. He may be your prince, but not to the world.
Let him express. Talk it out. Allow your child to express his/her feelings about others having a sibling and the fact that they don't. Tell them that every family is different and your family of 3 is the best for all of you. Once your child is of a suitable age, explain your choice of having only one child, and assure that it is in his/her best interests. An honest conversation is better than leaving things to the imagination and suppressed feelings.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of being absolutely dependent—Foster your child's independence. Since only children develop such a close relationship with their parents, some become too reliant on them for moral support, homework help, and entertainment. Parents, too, can unknowingly reinforce this dependence. An only child needs to learn how to occupy himself and have fun -- the parent doesn't always have to be the entertainer.
Getting to spend a lot of quality time with your child is one of the many advantages of having a single child, but know when to retreat so that it does not become suffocating.
Parents of onlies also have to learn that they cannot get hung up on their only child and always make him happy. If they dote too much, respond to his every whine, satisfy his every whim, they are going to regret it in the long run. Overindulgence can have serious repercussions. Some onlies want to have everything on their own terms. They develop a mentality of, "It's either my way or no way at all."
If we take a deeper look into these aspects, we will understand that these pitfalls can be encountered with any child in general and maybe a degree more with a single child. Every child needs to experience the joy o grandparents' love, the beauty of extended family, the value of friendship, sharing and caring, and the like.
We have many famous personalities in history and in current times who are only children ...much the same way we have famous people who had a sibling.
Having a sibling is a choice and not a need.