“An only child?” Well-meaning acquaintances may ask this about your family, followed by the inevitable, “Only children are always spoiled!”
Any parent of an only child has experienced the concerns and judgment of others who cannot fathom why you would choose to only have one child. However, in America today, the number of one-child households is growing tremendously due to the high cost of living, college tuition, single-parent homes, and the choice of parents to have children later in life. Census studies indicate there are more than 20 million single child households.
Raising an only child is no longer a rarity. Rather, it has become a choice for many families, and like any family with one or multiple children, contains its own set of highs and lows.
Only child characteristics:
- high academic achievement
Only children spend a lot of time around adults. This can be excellent for their early language development as well as their learning of manners and politeness. Because they interact more one-on-one with adults, you may also notice that your only child seems more mature than children his own age. This is usually due to that independent characteristic. Only children learn to do for themselves, rather than relying on a sibling. Also, out of necessity, they often learn to entertain themselves and enjoy alone time.
This high self-esteem and independent streak only children have could be what helps them lead their classrooms in academic achievement. Of course, studies also show only children are academic leaders because they receive more academic support and attention at home and their parents have more resources to divert to their education. But all children are different, with their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses. Not every only child will be valedictorian, just as not every youngest child will be the class clown.
Tips for Parenting Your Only Child:
- Don’t be a schedule extremist.
- Let them make mistakes.
- Resist the urge to fix everything for them.
- Encourage strong friendships.
- Teach them to relax.
It can be tempting to over-schedule your child’s life. Because you are concerned for socialization, you might enroll him in a variety of extracurricular activities. But this comes with its own set of problems and can make your child uptight and tense, unable to be flexible if a schedule is altered. Like any parenting situation, relax and let your child guide you to their interests and abilities. Do encourage activities that build strong friendships, but be okay with lazy days at home as well. After all, your only child is probably happy to play by himself every once in a while, anyway.
Check out the rest of our Birth Order Series: