There are some great advantages to having an only child. They are more likely to have good leadership qualities, to be self-sufficient and mature for their age. Also, there is not any sibling rivalry, bickering or arguing, which can be very wearing for the parent. However, many parents find there is also a stigma attached to having the one child. Only children have battled being labelled as selfish, entitled and spoilt for generations. However, we are now having less children than ever before. In fact, over 40% of married couples have one child. It is becoming increasingly common and this is down to a variety of reasons, from women putting off children to later years, to broken marriages or secondary infertility. Some women simply feel that their lives are more fulfilling and well balanced with one child.
There are many benefits to having an only child including:
- They do not have to fight for parental love and attention
- They often grow up partaking in more adult conversations, enabling them to have a more mature approach to the world
- They are likely to be more independent
Families come in all different shapes and sizes, and with every type there will be a unique set of challenges. Having an only child can bring its own. So, what can you do to help your only child?
- Encourage interaction
From an early age, encourage your child to interact with a mixture of children through baby and toddler groups and playdates. As they get older, after school and weekend clubs can be a brilliant way of making and sustaining important friendships.
- Don’t fight their battles
It is hard for any parent to witness their child having an altercation with another. As difficult as it is, don’t step in straight away. Instead, see if they can the navigate the conflict themselves. Negotiation, emotional control and forgiveness are all lessons that children need to learn and ones that are especially important when they do not have siblings to practise on!
- Don’t do everything for them
It can be tempting, without the distraction of siblings, to invest a lot of time into doing chores for them. Ensure that they have a weekly chore that they must do, whether it is simply unloading the dishwasher or tidying their room.
- Avoid spoiling a child
Only children are often referred to as spoilt which is a very unfair observation. Being spoilt really comes down to parenting and teaching your child that they can’t have everything. Some parents may feel that they want to give their child what they ask for. However, setting boundaries and teaching that no means no, will help your child in the long run.
- Teach your child about sharing
Without a sibling in the house to share with, a child will find that they do not have the opportunity to learn about sharing toys and negotiating arguments. Make time to teach your child the art of sharing.
Children without siblings often have an exceptionally close bond with their parents, so most importantly, embrace this unique relationship with your child.