Raising a Single Child

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Having an only child has many benefits. I do not have to deal with kids pulling each other’s hair, emotional blackmail from one kid saying I love the other more… You get the idea.

I felt really lucky that I had only one child. I felt my life was that much easier. Until I realised that I completely missed training my child in some areas which may have easily been taken care if my child had a sibling, like :

  1. An only child has an inflated sense of self, which can be defined as high ego.
  2. They hate to compromise
  3. They hate to share
  4. They tend to become stubborn
  5. They do not learn to work as a group. As a result, some become bossy and some become pushovers.

Why does this happen?

We love our child so much, we do everything for them… and more. Now, since our child is single, they do not have to go through any struggle, like fighting for parents’ attention, giving up on stuff because the other sibling needs it more; losing unfairly to the other sibling sometimes and other sibling being better than them in something. It does create a sense of “I can get everything I imagine”, “I don’t need to give anything in return” and “I am the best”. Of course, this is fantasy, not reality, which they may not be ready to face when they step out of the protected cocoon of the family environment into the real world. It really makes that adjustment extremely hard not only for the child but also for the parent.

Is there a way to help the single child?

Yes, there is. I learnt a few tricks along the way:

  1. Make sure the child has many friends of their own age. If possible, involve cousins In these interactions, there will be situations where you feel that your child is being taken for granted. That’s good! Why? That’s what happens with siblings, right? Gradually, the child will start learning to stand up for him/herself without your help.
  2. Get the child involved in team sports. Again, here is a chance to learn and practice skills like compromising, sharing, and working in a group.
  3. Make sure they lose. Sounds weird? Well, no. When they lose, they learn the skill of losing gracefully. Also, their inflated sense of self, the feeling that they are the best, starts breaking down. They need to understand that while they are good, they still need to get better. This not only gets them to understand themselves better, but also challenges them to aim higher. Imagine if you let them win all the time. What happens? Since they think they are so good at something, they have no desire to get any better. It stagnates their growth. And without realising, we were the cause!

 

In short, when we have just one child, we love them so much, we forget to challenge them. Remember, struggle is good for the child.

 

“Adversity builds character”

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