As adults we live in a world where we are surrounded by other adults with whom we interact constantly whether through our work, socially, through sports and hobbies or simply through our everyday activities of shopping, eating out or simply going for a stroll in the park.
The skills that we need when interacting with others are much easier learnt from an early age. It’s particularly import when it comes to parenting only child to ensure that your child is given the opportunity to develop these skills. A couple of key indicators that your child’s social skills may need some work are things like self isolation and aggressiveness towards others . Shyness may be considered one, however also be aware that it may be more of a confidence (or lack there-of) issue as opposed to a social one.
Here are a few things which will help to set your only child on the right path.
- Enroll your child in kindergarten. This is an excellent way of loosening the child’s reliance on you and introduces them other children in a safe and stimulating environment which will ease them into school. A good preschool will usually proactively encourage teamwork and sharing.
- Invite other children to your house on a play date so that your child has the opportunity to interact with them on his own ‘home ground’. If a shorter step is needed, tee up a time with another friend (and child) and meet for a coffee, this way your children can meet for a shorter period of time and on mutual ground.
- If your child is having difficulty relating to other children, try encouraging him to develop a relationship with just one particular child as a special friend and then branch out from here.
- Because your child will need other children for company, choose a school that it close by so that he has friends within easy reach in the local area.
- When planning holidays choose a destination and accommodation where there are going to be other children. If this is not possible, then consider taking another child along on holiday with you, or think about teaming up with another family for a joint holiday.
- Some only children will be happy with their own company and enjoy such things as reading or drawing. This is fine and should be encouraged but, while your child is content with this, it is essential that he also learns to engage in activities alongside other people. Focus in therefore on what your child likes and encourage him to branch out, perhaps by joining a reading group or a painting class.
- Try to encourage your child to take up at least one team sport or group activity, but be careful to lead him in this direction without forcing him. Introduce your child to the variety of options available, but then take your lead from him. There’s nothing worse than pushing your only child into little league only to find that he doesn’t like baseball.
Only child parenting is very much about finding a balance between giving your child too much attention and leaving him to his own devices and giving them too little attention. It is also very much about ensuring that an only child learns to easily interact with other children and learns the skills of playing and working with others from an early age.