Raising an Only Child

Help Forge Friendships

Give only children the opportunity to interact with other kids. Social activities need to be engineered more for only children, even as early as 18 months of age, says J. Lane Tanner, MD, FAAP, associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco. Options for child socializing include:

  • Preschool
  • Special classes
  • Play dates

Play dates should be scheduled both in the child's home, where she has to share her toys and her parents' attention, and at a friend's home, where she has to follow the lead of her peer. Also be sure to orchestrate play time with kids your child's age, since onlies often gravitate toward older or younger children.

Teach your child social skills. Only children don't have the benefit of the rough-and-tumble of sibling relationships. What we call sibling rivalry is actually a chance to get along with peers on a daily basis, explains Meri Wallace, author of Birth Order Blues. Losing a game, waiting a turn, joining a group -- all of these things are hard for an only child, she adds. To help children succeed in social situations, parents should:

  • Demonstrate by example how to share, compromise, and show consideration for others
  • Reward children when they're being considerate and administer consequences when they aren't

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