When we talk with only children and ask what they like least about being an only child, one universal response is that they simply hate being called spoiled. But the truth is that sometimes they are, and whose fault is that? But don’t be too hard on yourself. Kids are not only cute but clever as well. Children are masters at getting what they want and making parents feel it’s their obligation to give it to them. Moreover, parents of only children find it very difficult to divert their attention from the only child in the house. It becomes far too easy to obsess about every little thing the child does…both good and bad. Try some of these ideas.
- Set realistic limits for your child, regardless of age. Clarify your expectations. Being firm is even more important for parents of an only child than for parents with more than one. Be honest and clear about your rules. Enforce those rules consistently. Children love order and are actually happier when they know you aren’t spineless.
- Praise should be app ropriate. Children are smart enough to know when praise hasn’t really been earned. Praise given for what is not praiseworthy, lets kids think the world does owe them a living.
- Acknowledge your deepest fear. That fear is… yes, something could happen to your only child. Then take a deep breath and…let go. Cherish your only child. Don’t smother him.
- Don’t always put your child first. Out in the real world your child will only be one among many. He needs to learn that he is not the center of the universe.
- Don’t try to save your child from all pain or periodic failures. Don’t be afraid to disappoint your child. You do not have to be a martyr to be a loving parent. Pain and failure make us human and compassionate. And if we never fail we can’t enjoy success. The child who has all of his/her expectations met all of the time, will have difficulty becoming independent. If you promise your child something and circumstances prevent you from fulfiling that promise, explain the situation to the child in terms he/she can understand. Don’t make yourself crazy trying to make things come out right. Children are infinitely adaptable if you allow them to be, and they need to learn coping skills.
- Limit your child’s material possessions to what is reasonable. Children who get everything value very little.