I come from a family of being the only child. Growing up, I’ve heard of all the stereotypes typically associated with being an only child - that we are selfish, loves to be the centre of attention at all time and are socially awkward. Sure it was great to have the constant focus of my mum and dad but growing up, I also remember myself feeling lonely very often. If you are the parent of an only child, here are some tips on how to take the loneliness out of your special one.
Socialise your child from an early age
Only child are used to getting all the attention at home so they tend to form a ‘King or Queen of the castle’ type of personality trait from a young age. This will cause problems once they move from the home environment into the ‘outside world’ when they are no longer the only kid in the room. One way to address this is to have your only child socialise with other kids from an early age. Take them to play dates with other mums and bubs, have regular outings to playgrounds and local parks where they’ll be able to easily mingle with other kids
Encourage participation in group activities
Only child tend to be very independent and don’t mind doing activities on their own. If your kid show an interest in a particular hobby or activity, try to encourage them to join group/team based kids activities. Participating in team activities such as joining a Rugby League team will be a great way for your only child to make new friends that share similar interest as them and help to minimise the centre of attention mentality.
Treat them the same as other kids
One way to single out only child and make them feel different and alone is to give them special treatments. Particularly in social situations, only child don’t like to be single out like they’re an alien. Parents take note - put boundaries in place as if you had more than one child. Simple rules like finishing dinner before allowing them desserts and finishing homework before play time helps only child to stay discipline, just like other kids they know in their play groups or at school.
Spend time with them but don’t overdo it
When you only have one kid in the house, it’s easy to smolder them with too much attention all the time. Remember that your kid need space from you every now and then as well. The same goes for mums and dads - it’s fine to have interests outside of your kid. When you do spend time with your only child, make it quality time. Take them on camping trip, spend a day at the beach or try something different from our ActiveActivities directory and make it a day of quality bonding time.
Hang out with other families
Some parents feel uncomfortable with the idea of exposing their only child to families with many kids. They fear that this kind of contact and exposure will make their only child feel even more singled out and lonely. This has been found to be not true - it is important for only child to spend time with different kind of family structure, whether it is middle size families or large families with lots of kids. This kind of exposure helps only child to understand that all families are different and it is ok to be an only child and still have interaction with lots of different people on a daily basis.
Avoid being too critical
It’s easy for only child to feel overwhelmed with all the focus being placed on them in the family with no other kids to share the load. it is common for mums and dads to place all their energy and hope onto their only child and become very critical of mistakes. While you will need to use discipline from time to time, make sure it is constructive and encouraging with the focus for your child to do better next time.
Bec is a married stay at home mum who spends most of her time sorting out the chaotic lives of her two daughters, Jessica (7) and Tessa (3). When she’s not carefully coordinating her kids’ outfits, or addressing their notoriously complicated culinary requirements, she likes to share in the busy lives of other parents. After devouring mummy blogs for years, Bec decided to start blogging from her Sydney home last year. She hopes her experiences will inspire other parents and help them feel less alone when things get tough.