How to raise a single child
The reasons are diverse, but Western families have fewer members, and the number of families with one child is increasing. At first glance, it seems easier to educate a child rather than several. However, if the logistics involved in single-child education are simpler, teaching a single child is more complex psychologically: Educating a single child can be very demanding and stressful for parents. Having only one child has positive aspects, not only for parents but also for the child: parents’ attention, more resources, greater intimacy with parents …
However, these positive aspects are not without risk: The particular attention of parents can give the child a false representation of its importance in the world and attachment can create an emotional dependence of the child vis-à-vis parents. In each family, however, the dynamics are different. Here we mention only the general trend. You will find in this article a description of the main psychological challenges that different children face and some tips to deal with them.
- The single child may have difficulty establishing his identity and differentiating himself from his parents. The innate instinct of all children to imitate, to want to be like their parents and to please them is much more pronounced in only children. To create a clear identity in your child, be careful and not over-praise the similarities: encourage difference by praising the child at an early age when doing something “in his or her way.”
- As the child does not know the rivalries, tensions, and concessions involved in living with brothers and sisters, the only son can be relatively immature emotionally. He usually prefers the company of adults, or older children or older than himself, and avoids the company of children his age. Forced coexistence with kids of one’s age in the school setting can solve this problem. It is, therefore, desirable that your child goes to school at three years old.
If you find that at the park, for example, the child prefers to play with you rather than play with the other children, encourage them to meet other kids by not playing with them. Support the activities in which he has to exchange with the kids of his age: workshops, sports, theater …
- The particular attention that parents lend to their child has positive effects on the child’s esteem and image. However, this can turn into an egocentric attitude. To avoid this, build up your child’s positive self-esteem and image without falling into exaggeration. Always make your child detailed comments, from a very young age (“This red flower you have drawn is charming!” Rather than “What a beautiful drawing, it is the most beautiful flower I have never seen ! “). Give him realistic encouragement (Well, you got a 14 in mathematics! Let’s see if you can have 16 at the next check! “Rather than” You’re the smartest in the class, you can have the best grade! “)
- The attachment between the parents and the single child means that the child feels very secure and protected. This attachment lays the foundation for a healthy independence as the child grows up. Thus, if properly managed, this attachment allows the single adult child to be confident, even without his or her parents. The mismanaged attachment generates anxiety in the only child when they are not with their parents. For the child to inherit only the right side of emotional attachment, develop his or her individuality with activities that differentiate it from you.
Encourage him to make his decisions and take care of himself. From an early age, gradually introduce activities to develop his independence and give him responsibilities: brushing his teeth, making the bed … These events will become more numerous and more complicated as the child grow. Allow and encourage your child to spend time with friends or children his or her age.
If you are having difficulty raising a single child, contact a teacher or psychologist.