Do you wonder if your only child will feel lonely? Do the constant requests for a sibling worry you? You are not alone.
It’s no secret that only children tend to have a bad reputation. It’s often referred to as the ‘only child syndrome’ and hints at an unwillingness to share, difficulties socialising and resistance when it comes to compromising. Some even say that only children could end up lonely as adults.
Not to worry, these are stereotypes and the above-described traits are seen just as often in children with siblings. But how do you deal with your only child constantly asking for a sibling? How do you ensure your child is adept at socialising and isn’t lonely? (as compared with their peers who have siblings?)
Here are 5 tips to make sure your only child is happy and doesn’t feel lonely!
This is super important, as a parent you should never choose to have another child just to make your only child less lonely. Explain why they may not have siblings in the future if that’s the case. Children understand so much more than we think and honesty builds trust, especially when used as a way to communicate from an early age.
If you leave your only child with screens on all day with no other type of interaction, they’ll most definitely suffer. But if you set some rules for screen time (e.g. maximum half an hour every afternoon) then they will get used to trying other activities. Play pretend is the oldest game in the word and only children seem to be particularly attracted to it. They will pretend to be a vet, a teacher, an astronaut and so on and talk to themselves. This is a wonderful game as it encourages their creativity immensely! You can encourage their inclination by suggesting them to invent stories, songs, etc. that they can tell you about later if you are busy. This also creates a great bond between you and them, making you feel less guilty about not being there all the time and encouraging them to share their latest passion with you from an early age.
If your only child spends most of their time playing on their own, when you do introduce someone in their life, make sure they are as good as they can be! Nannies, babysitters, au pairs will be extremely important figures for only children. At CocoRio, we pride ourselves on selecting the most creative sitters (all creative professionals with experience working with children). A figure like a CocoRio sitter will make sure that your child has a great person in their life who will be like a very good friend or sibling. Without acting like teachers, our sitters can introduce new hobbies to the children they care for through creative play, including music, art, dance and more! Many only children dearly remember their nannies in adult age, as they were one of their first best friends, but they were so much wiser than their peers!
Peers of your child’s age are equally as important as the adults in their life. Encourage your only child to play with their friends after school by organising playdates and allowing your child to go to their friends’ birthday parties and events. Also, encourage them to invite their friends home for their own birthday parties. Doing this from an early age will help them learn to share their toys and space.
Siblings would often make new friends together, especially when on holiday. If your child is a little bit shy and finds it difficult to make new friends when you go to the beach or to a new park, you can give them a helping hand! Simply offer to accompany your child while they get to know a new group of friends. When I was young, my mum would always come with me to a group of new potential friends. She would introduce herself to the other mums and I would then introduce myself to the children. No one has ever known the trick and I have eventually grown into a sociable adult!
Corinna, Co-Founder of CocoRio
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