“It is so difficult to manage and afford one child, how can we think of another”, “One child is enough”, “I cannot sacrifice my career for having another child”. These are some of the excuses you hear from parents opting for a single child nowadays.
Parents with a lone child often brood with questions like – will the child have enough company when he/she grows up? Will their behaviour be different from other kids who have siblings? This ignorance gives rise to the “Only child Syndrome”.
The only child syndrome is reported in children who are the only child of their parents. It develops after birth, and this syndrome includes more of behavioural changes than biological ones. This syndrome can lead to serious complications in the lifestyle of a child. Sometimes, children suffering from only child syndrome are referred as “spoilt” or “pampered”.
What are the symptoms of an only child?
- The child becomes habitual of constant attention, so he/she seeks attention all the time and gets upset if not given
- The child likes to be alone and finds it difficult to make friends
- Feels shy in front of others
- The child is unable to handle conflicts since he/she has not learnt how to interact with peers
- The child is not confident enough to express his/her feelings
- Talk to themselves or imaginary friends
- Lack competitive attitude
- Feel pressurised by parents to perform better
- Do not like to share anything with other kids
- Doesn’t like disapproval as parents are always ready to fulfil their wishes
What can parents do?
Parents play a significant role in shaping a child’s behaviour and their outlook towards life. Here are some tips for parents to help their only kid:
- Make the child learn to share and interact with other children by sending them to playgroup/daycare before starting proper schooling.
- Plan play-dates with other mothers so that children can spend time together.
- Encourage your child to interact with other kids and make friends.
- Urge them to express their feelings in front of others.
- Enrol your child in group activity classes like art and dance.
- Let the kid decide their choices and do not burden him/her with your expectations.
- Permit the child to be independent and allow him/her to do few things on their own.
- Set limits for their demands and be consistent about it so that they learn that all requests will not be fulfilled.
- To make sure you are not expecting too much from your only kid, you may contact his/her school teacher to know about what is realistic and practical for their age.
- If the child gets into some conflict with his/her friends, let them resolve it on their own and do not always run to help them.
Things to remember
Every situation has both negative and positive aspects. Being an only child does not always mean problems. When well-addressed, it can lead to more acceptable behavioural patterns in the child. Few things to keep in mind are:
- All children are not same. Some thrive, and some face difficulties, and this does not depend on the size of the family.
- Don’t live with the feeling of guilt that you have only one child. Enjoy with your child and help him/her cope with life in a better way.
- You should have a balanced life where you spend quality time with your kid and live your own life too.
- You decided to have one child. Accept it and move happily ahead with it.
Every child is unique, and parenting is a beautiful experience. There are up’s, and downs in every family. The key is to learn how to deal with every situation and seek healthy and happy life for you and your child.
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- The Dilemma of the Only Child. Available at http://www.personalityresearch.org/papers/eischens2.html. Accessed on 6th July 2016.
- Alfred Adler Research on Birth Order. Available at http://www.d120.org/assets/1/staff_assets/rhalbur/Alfred_Adler_-_Birth_Order.pdf. Accessed on 6th July 2016.
- Veenhoven R, Verkuyten M. THE WELL-BEING OF ONLY CHILDREN. In: Adolescence.1989; 24(93): 155-166.
- Relationship Between Parental Support And Personality: A Compartive Study Among Children With Siblings And Only Children. Available at http://zenithresearch.org.in/images/stories/pdf/2014/sep/ZIJMR/9_ZIJMR_VOL4_ISSUE9_SEPT2014.pdf. Accessed on 6th July 2016