Successfully raising an only child is a rewarding experience because of the challenges it poses for the entire family. The greatest fear that parents of only children have is that of raising entitled, spoiled and selfish children. But frankly speaking, instead of fretting over the challenges of raising an only child, you must embrace the unique and beautiful parenting opportunity and overcome the hurdles by giving your child unconditional love.
Here are some tips to overcome the challenges faced when raising an only child:
Also read: 7 things you should never say to children
Don’t get hung up on myths: The biggest mistake you are probably making while trying to raise an only child, is being hung up on the ‘only-child’ myths and stereotypes. You won’t help your child by worrying about whether he/she is feeling lonely as the only child. Instead, try to give them attention and affection and you child will be happy and content regardless of your family size.
Teach your child to entertain himself: If you tend to be at your child’s service 24*7 he/she will be extremely dependent on you and you may regret that later in life. Teach your child to entertain himself/herself and they will stop calling out “MOM!” or “DAD!” very often. It’s perfectly acceptable, and developmentally appropriate, for children to learn how to keep themselves occupied. Let your child do what he loves, whether it is reading a particular story book or playing with their favourite toy.
Let your child mix and mingle: Teaching your child to socialize will take away most of the ‘mom guilt’ that mothers of only children feel. Provide opportunities for your child to mix and mingle with other children of their age. Weekly trips to the park or play dates are a good way to let your child socialise.
Don’t hover around them all the time: While raising an only child, it’s understandable that you’re worried about your kid as he/she begins to socialize. But try to resist the urge to hover around them all the time. Don’t be over-protective as your child may not develop the essential social skills and keep to themselves. Just go to the park and let your child play with other kids
Encourage interpersonal skill building: The best time to build interpersonal skills in children is from the age of one. Infants learn to meet their emotional and physical needs faster, so make the most of this and allow your children to have emotions and deal with them without trying to fix them instantly. Let your only child express these emotions in the presence of other children. This way, they will collectively learn to empathize with others.
Let your child participate in team activities: Encourage your only child to participate in team activities like the junior sports team or boy scouts or even a performing arts class. Structured activities in such teams and clubs will help teach your child the value and importance of team playing and healthy competition.
Also read: Why you should adopt a second child
Build a network of family and close friends: Children can also be frustrated and need an outlet to vent out their emotions. Make sure to build a healthy network of family and friends with whom your child can connect and confide in. It may be an aunt, uncle, grandparent, close family friend or anyone.
Avoid over-indulgence: Lastly, however tempting it may be, do not pamper your only child. Parents are often in the position to provide to their children all that they didn’t get while growing up. But the smart thing would be to not spoil your only child because you have completely invested in them. Instead, make rewards correspond with chores and responsibilities like cleaning their room, finishing homework etc.