A few decades ago, families with three or four children were quite normal. But, nowadays, with the rising cost of education, late first-time pregnancy or less endurance to go through labour all over again, more and more urban parents have begun to identify with the thought process of, “She is my first, last and only child”. Both types of children, those who are first-borns and those who are only children, grow up to live life on their own terms. To ensure that your only child grows up to be a polite and respectful adult, you have to be the role model and give her the right upbringing.
Tips for Parents Who Have Only One Child
Whether you’re planning to have a second child after a few years or have decided to stop at one, here are some things you should keep in mind when bringing up your first-born.
1. Give Her Opportunities to Spend Time With Her Peers
Social skills like awaiting her turn and joining a group of friends don’t come easily to only children as they don’t have siblings they can learn from. Hence, it’s important that your child spends more time interacting with kids her age. Once she completes 18 months, you can start arranging play dates in your own home or taking her to other kids’ homes. Doing activities with her peers will help her make friends easily and understand the concept of patience and waiting for one’s turn.
2. Encourage Her to Do Daily Activities On Her Own
Only children often tend to be spoon-fed and get everything done for them by their parents or their household help. This may make her lazy and over-reliant on her parents and others. So, at an early age, you should encourage her to start doing things on her own, like taking a bath by herself, brushing her own teeth, etc. A dependent child is a demanding child, and only when you let her take responsibility for herself will she grow up to be a self-sufficient girl.
3. Don’t Always Ask for Her Say in Family Matters
Children who don’t have siblings tend to behave like mini-adults when they’re just toddlers. They are likely to form opinions and be expressive about their parents’ relationship with each other, relatives, cousins, friends, etc. To stop this habit from developing, try refraining from having arguments with your partner in front of her, and only ask for her opinions in matters concerning the household or herself, such as what cereal to bring from the grocery store or what dish to make for dinner. This will remind her that she is still a child in the house.
4. Let Her Get Used to Some Me-Time
You’re likely to be constantly fussing over your precious little one as she’s your one and only ray of sunshine. And that’s not bad. But, if you’re always doing activities with your little girl, she may find it difficult to enjoy her own company. Give your only child some me-time and encourage her to read or play a musical instrument to herself, even if there’s nobody at home. This will also be helpful if she has to move to a different city for higher studies or job later in life.
5. Know the Difference Between Pushing Too Less and Pushing Too Hard
Parenting an only child or a first-born is an art because it requires an understanding of how much is too much. Such children demand motivation and encouragement from their parents; you need to push her just a little bit to make more friends, else she would be content not talking to anybody other than her parents. On the other hand, if you push her too hard to be a social person, she may start resenting your words and become a rebellious individual. So, parents should make an effort to read the behaviour of their only child and advance or retreat accordingly.
6. Avoid Putting Pressure on Her to be Perfect
Parents tend to pin all their hopes on their only child or first-born. They wish that their child is the best at everything, be it academics or sports. Putting pressure on her to be perfect should be avoided if you don’t want her thinking, “I’m doing everything to the best of my ability but it’s never enough for my parents!”
7. No is No
Your only child is likely to learn very fast that you will buy her whatever she asks for. Basking in all the love and attention you shower on her, your little girl may throw tantrums and make demands you may not able to fulfil. Some parents go to great lengths to buy their only child expensive gifts just because they don’t have the heart to refuse. But, take a practical approach and avoid meeting demands that may seem unreasonable to you. It’s a good and healthy practice to teach her to accept the meaning of ‘no’.
8. Teach Her to Find Humour in Stressful Situations
First-borns and only children have higher IQs and perform better in school says a study. However, things may not be rosy always and she may have to listen to negative comments from her school teachers and later, from her boss. Show that you’re there for her in such situations and tell her that it’s a part of life. Your words will prevent her from taking criticism to heart. Instead of focusing on the harsh tone in which it’s delivered, your only first-born will pay attention to the advice and use it to better herself.
9. Bring Home a Pet to Provide Companionship
It may be the case that an only child has working parents. When she is left alone at home, it may lead to a feeling of loneliness, and she may find solace in TV shows or video games. A pet dog or cat can prevent her from feeling lonely, and also keep her away from digital devices.
The above parenting tips can make only children and first-borns confident, charming, and ambitious individuals who can achieve whatever they put their mind to. Raise her to be independent while being there as a support system she can lean back on whenever she needs.