Parenting an Only Child

Only Children and Their Needs

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Father with son

There are 14 million children in the United States who do not have siblings. It's true! As the economy stalls and expenses rise, many people are increasingly having only one child. For many families, raising an only child comes with some unique types of issues that need to be addressed.

Related: Sibling Rivalry

Only Children: Building Bridges

Teens and tweens from only-child families are often thought of as being alone and bored or are believed to be missing out on things. But this is often simply not the case. There may be some things that an only child misses out on, such as having relationships with siblings, but there are also many things that an only child gains. For starters, an only child doesn't have to share her things, get hand-me-downs, or fight about what to watch on TV. Still, there are some things that parents raising only-child tweens should be aware of, such as:

  • Hold back on the spoiling a bit, so your child fits in better with the rest of the world. It is easy to spoil an only child, as they don't have to share or take turns. And, while it may work at home, it won't work in the real world. Teach your child to earn privileges and allowances to help avoid spoiling her. You can use behavior charts to do this as well as to help curb any unwanted behaviors in which she may be engaging.
  • Be open to discussing the issue and acknowledging her feelings about being an only child. She may have questions, concerns, or even compliments.
  • Focus on helping her build healthy relationships with others. This is the one thing that an only child may miss out on by not having siblings. It is important that she build relationships with others, especially family members and extended family members who are her own age.
  • Encourage independence and always focus on the positives of being an only child.

Whether you are raising one child or six, the focus should be on raising them to be healthy, competent adults. So, parenting an only child is less about being one than being one of many.

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