Growing up an only child definitely had its pros and cons for me. On the one hand, I had my parents' attention basically all the time and never had to share my toys; but on the other, I was often lonely, felt like I had to be perfect since I was the only one who could impress my mom and dad, and fought a lot of battles with them over whether I could stay at a friend's house or not.
My parents did an awesome job raising me — if I do say so myself — but if I could go back in time to help them out, I'd definitely have a few tips for them to help me grow up without all the pressure and stress that came with being their only kid.
If you're raising an only child, here are five things you need to know about them.
1. They are going to feel a lot of pressure.
Only children often feel a lot of pressure to be perfect at everything. They're the only kid you'll get a report card for, cheer for on the sidelines of sports games, and attend parent/teacher conferences for, among other things. Remind your child that their best is all they can do and you're proud of them no matter what — they're going to want to impress you all the time, so make sure they know that they are!
2. They're not trying to offend you by how often they want to see their friends.
There are times when the parents of an only child could feel like they come second to their child's friends, especially as they get older and want to see their friends more and more frequently. Don't take offense to your child wanting to eat dinner at their friend's house all the time or for wanting to constantly invite classmates over after school. They just want to be around their same-age peers, not to insult you or make you feel any less important.
3. They might be really independent, and that's OK.
On the one hand, your kids will love constantly being with friends, but on the other, they will be pretty good at doing things independently and may want more alone time as they grow up. This doesn't necessarily mean that they're growing up to be reserved or shy, it's just that they learn from a young age how to entertain and fend for themselves. "Leave me alone" takes on a bit of a different, less rude meaning when it comes to only kids.
4. They don't want to be considered "spoiled."
As your child grows, the common misconception that only children can be "spoiled brats" is one that most only children want to steer clear of. Like most people, they'd much rather be considered a strong, independent, humble person — help them become that type of kid, teen, and adult by not indulging them any more than you would if you had two, three, or four kiddos. They'll thank you for it later!
5. Their imagination will be vivid — don't compromise that.
In order to while away the playtime hours, only children rely heavily on their imaginations to help them create fun and exciting games and role plays. They'll likely be extremely creative and inventive — don't stifle that; let them be weird and wonderful* with their ideas.
*Even if that means having a stuffed animal obsession — mine were my pretend classroom's pupils, patients at my toy hospital, and groupies at my impromptu basement concerts.