Strategies For Your Solo Kids

3/25/19

   I have to be honest. I don’t really care HOW many kids one chooses to have. Have a million, have one, have none BUT there ARE some traits that I have run into that are more prevalent in families with only children and that’s what we will be gabbing about here today. Before the defensive light starts flashing, this is not a judgement call, I am not throwing shade on anyone, it’s an observation made after years and years and yearssssss of teaching and speaking with parents who, in fact, were looking for ways to support the growth and social development of their only child. So if you’re already mad that’s OK, continue reading or move onto something that is a little easier to stomach. Alllllll good.

   O.K., you’re still here. Great. Let’s move on then. I have a friend who asked me point blank, “We’re only having one kid. What do I need to do to get her ready socially?” That’s a pretty broad and loaded question being that kids are people and people come with many different types of personalities and temperaments and needs and wants BUT there ARE some things that one can do to give only kids the skills that they need to be a part of a community, understand that it’s not always their turn or about them and generally not grow up to be a selfish asshole. Yup, I said it. 

   The missteps that parents take are done out of love and support and also just not having information about child development. Why would a parent know how to make sure that a child has the skills that they need for life without being told? How would a parent even know the questions to ask? That’s what I’M here for. To give you the questions AND the answers. One stop shoppin’ here.

   When there is only one child in a family, that child tends to get LOT’S of attention, they are the only small person in the house so why not stop talking and hear them out? Why not dress them, clean for them, do for them, you only have the one, it’s not THAT big a deal. Wellllll, it kinda is cause out here in the world, the world of school (Pre, Elementary, Jr., and High, not to mention out in the WORLD) they will not be the center of ANYONES universe. They will be loved and cared for but they will be one of many. They WILL have to wait, it won’t always be about them. This can be very upsetting to kids if they are not equipped for this, it can feel like, rejection. It can also be isolating as they may be left out of play because of their needy OR bossy actions. Only children may need to be first or need to be heard even if someone else is talking or need things done their way. I’m not saying only kids aren’t awesome and thoughtful and kind. Some of the kids who deeply hold my heart are only kids but without certain social skills and milestones it can be hard for them. These kids come from parents who ask my advice about how to carve the best social path for their only’s, so as you see this is NOT about demonizing only kids but it IS about shining a light on what they need and how best to support them. 

   This may seem crazy but just because a child comes up to you while you’re talking that does not mean that it’s automatically their turn. Sure, kids with siblings interrupt but I will tell you, only kids tend to do it more and with some serious gusto, they do not take kindly to the waiting and are confused and annoyed when they have to wait or they just persist. So now what??? Make those kids wait! Assuming it’s not an emergency, like no limbs are hanging off or some grave injustice has been done, don’t stop talking. You can pause to acknowledge your child but your conversation came first and it’s not very thoughtful to the person on the other end of that convo if you stop in the middle. You can be thoughtful of course, “I want to hear what you have to say but it’s not your turn yet. You can wait or you can go play and I’ll talk to you in a minute.” They may happily walk away, or they may NOT and instead, choose to storm off or tantrum and that’s OK. It is not your job to keep your kids happy all of the time but you know that because you read my blog about that (RIGHT?!?!?). By having your child wait, you are teaching them that there are other people who have needs and other people who matter and yes that IS a good life lesson. 

   Wanna get REALLY crazy here with me? I mean you’ve made it this far, ya might as well keep going. When you are playing with your kid and they ask for a toy that you have, DON’T just hand it over. I know. You’re thinking like, “WHHHHAAATTT??? I don’t care about this Thomas train. Why can’t I Just give it to my kid who does?” See, you’re one of the people who has to mentor your child. Sure, they may go to school but they’re with you a lot and if they think they can have whatever they ask for whenever they ask for it this is gonna leak into the rest of their life; school, playdates, activities. Dude, you’re using Thomas, there are three other Thomas’ and about 40 other trains, they can wait. They cannot just take it from you. What does that look like? Here ya go, “I’m using Thomas right now but when I’m done you can have it.” You don’t need to hold it FOREVER just a minute or two. This goes for being first as well. If you walk in the door, please do not walk out and lock it again so your kid can be first. If you’re headed up the steps for the love of all things good do NOT walk back down so your kid be first. You’re mentors and you need to teach them that they will not always be first. Will this end well? HELLLLLLL NOOOOOO, but you’ve read my posts about tantrums (RIGHT?!?!) so you know it’s allllll goooood. No nasty words or discipline is needed, “I am walking up now and I’m not going to go down. If you want to be first next time you can kindly ask.” No one said parenting was easy but these things are necessary. There aren’t other kids there who will be like, “BUT IT’S MYYYYY TURN TO BE FIRST.” There’s no one to share space, time, things with, just YOU, so ya gotta do weird things sometimes to teach important life lessons and in the end THAT’S your job. 

   What did we learn here today? Parenting is tough? Brandi is asking some crazy stuff of us again? Maybe, but what I really want to get across is that no matter what your family looks like, there are certain strategies to implement to mentor your kids and give them the skills that they need to head out there into the big world now and in the future so that they will be happy and successful at any age. So for those who have only kids, the big job is to and this is gonna be blunt, it’s to teach them that they are not always number one. That they have to give others room, that things will not always go their way, that there are things that THEY need to fix or get or do for themselves. Of course ALL parents need to teach this life skills but when there are more kids in a house, kids kinda end up naturally learning how to wait and share space and moments and things, even if it’s super messy at first. They have to struggle through fights and taking turns and not always being first. They have people there to make it clear that it’s not always their moment in the sun. They have folks there to humble them, to make sure that they know that other people need time and attention as well. Ahhhh, siblings, says an admittedly pain in the ass older sister. Sorry Cor. OK team, time to go out there and set some limits and boundaries. Time to make kids wait and take turns with YOU. Time to go forth and mentor those kids. YOU GOT THIS!!!!