The most recent parenting trend, at least in the urban centres is opting to have just one child. Thus, more urban children are becoming the only child. The second child is often not wanted in preference to have better careers or the reluctance of women to undergo motherhood twice or financial limitations. Some people actually believe that a single child has a much higher chance of being successful in life as he would be getting the undivided attention of his parents and the maximum parental and family support.
However, contrary to the common belief that bringing up the only child or the sole child has many challenges and parenting issues related to it. Besides the obvious problem of keeping the sole child busy in a nuclear family set-up, there are many other issues too.
• Problem — a single child is becomes the centre of all the parental attention and hence the family expectations from the child are usually high. There is a tremendous pressure on the sole child to be very successful in school and in life.
Solution — the parents should learn to tone down their expectations and be more realistic in their approach towards the child. The very thinking that they have made a huge sacrifice by having just one child is rather regressive. Single-child parenting is a choice that the parents make themselves.
• Problem — there is always the possibility of the only child being pampered by the parents. This pampering or overindulgence sometimes spreads over to the grandparents also. This childhood indulgence could make the child develop serious adjustment problems in a social circle.
Solution — the parents have to fight their temptation to overindulge the child and make sure that the child develops social adaptability rather than feeling like the ‘king’ of his domain, i.e. his home and the parent’s undivided attention.
• Problem — the single child doesn’t have a sibling at home to bond with. Thus, the child tends to develop a very strong and sometimes obsessive bond with the parents and this turns into over-dependence for everything including homework and entertainment.
Solution — the parents have to create opportunities for the child to interact with children in his age group. This could be achieved by taking the child to public parks and other play areas where the chances of the child’s social interaction with other kids in enhanced.
Parents should try and increase their social interaction with their relatives and cousins and encourage the child to share more of his personal things including toys with others.