Friday, March 15, 2013

15 Tips for Raising an Only Child

for Become a Nanny

Once upon a time, big families were the norm. These days, however, more parents are choosing to raise only children instead of having a large brood. Along with that decision comes the concern about what it means to raise an only child. Many parents have apprehension over the thought of their child becoming spoiled or being lonely. Just as with multiple siblings, you can raise a well-adjusted, responsible, socially engaged child by following a few rather common sense pointers.
  1. Relax – Babies and younger children easily pick up on a parent’s anxiety. Learn to relax and enjoy the wonders of childhood with your little one. It won’t last long, so you don’t want to fill the time you have with your baby with unnecessary angst about things that will most likely never happen anyway. You’re going to make some mistakes, but all parents do. Go easy on yourself and take delight in your child.
  2. Find Other Single-Child Families – You don’t need to join an only child club, but befriending other families like your own will provide socialization for the children and give you some support as you connect with other parents who may share the same or similar concerns you have about raising an only child.
  3. Set Clear Boundaries for Your Child – All children need boundaries. Children who have no siblings are no exception. Even though it may be easier to give in to your child’s various requests all the time, don’t do it. Every child will test the boundaries; some will do so constantly, testing your patience in the process. Be firm in your resolve to hold to the established rules. Some parents lean toward leniency because there are no siblings to pander to, but that sends out the wrong message to kids. Your resolve shows that you can be trusted to stand by your word.
  4. Play With Your Child – Some valuable life lessons that kids would normally learn at the hands of their siblings can be taught through you engaging with your child during playtime. You can teach your child to share as you both decide what you’re going to play. Let her know that she won’t always get to dictate what you play; you get to have a say in what games are played too.
  5. Teach Responsibility – One child is a lot easier to clean up after than two or more children. However, you also need to teach your child how to be part of a greater whole. Let him help clear the table after meals. Give him a list of chores that are age appropriate, and be clear about the consequences of not following through. Show appreciation when he completes his tasks.
  6. Find “The Other Mother” or the “Second Dad” – This person does not usurp your role, but rather acts as a secondary adult confidant and cheerleader for your child. According to Jennifer Powell-Lunder, child psychologist, parents of only children need to be on guard so they don’t become enmeshed with their child. Engaging in relationships with other trusted adults, such as aunts, uncles or close friends for support will help prevent your child from totally taking cues from you.
  7. Let Go of the Lonely-Kid Guilt – It’s okay for your child to have some alone time. You don’t need to fill up every spare moment with activities and play dates to make sure she is socialized properly. Everyone needs time to themselves, and you will find that kids who have time to themselves quickly learn how to fill it creatively with a little guidance from you. This quiet time can teach your child how to be productive and content.
  8. Let Him Be Himself – Some parents begin to live vicariously through their child. This is not healthy. Encourage your child to be the person he was meant to be. Take pride in his accomplishments, but let them be his own and not yours.
  9. Keep it Real – According to Dr. Kevin Leman, author of The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are, only children are prone to perfectionism. Let your child know that it’s all right to not be perfect in every little thing. Indeed, it is impossible to get everything perfectly right all the time.
  10. Monitor Self-Talk – You may need to interrupt negative self-talk from time to time. Only children can set impossibly high standards for themselves, and they need some encouragement to see that failure does not mean the end of the world.
  11. Teach Him to Set His Own Goals – Only children who are prone to perfectionism are also hungry for success in many cases. They strive to be the best at everything, and they can be quite ambitious. Sometimes this can be taken to extremes, so it’s wise to step in and teach your child how to create and manage realistic goals.
  12. Stay Involved – There are so many activities available to kids these days. You can enroll your child in sports, dance, acting, gymnastics, music and just about anything else you can think of. Choose a group activity so your child will have an opportunity to make new friends, but don’t overload her schedule. Involvement in a team will teach valuable lessons about working together and compromise.
  13. Let Her Off the Hook – It’s natural for children to seek their parent’s approval. For only children, this can become an obsession. Especially as she gets older, it’s important for you to let your child know that she doesn’t need to do everything to please you. Autonomy has a place in her life as well.
  14. Live, Laugh, Love – Only children have a tendency to be quite serious and very grown up in their approach to life. You can help your child lighten up and see the humor around him by being a good role model in this department. You need to have discipline, but you also need to see the humor in life.
  15. Volunteer – Teach your child to help others by doing volunteer work. There are many opportunities for families to do service together. There are also other things you can do, like taking your child shopping for Toys for Tots or gathering up things and clothes you aren’t using anymore and taking them to Goodwill and explaining to your child what that organization does.

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