How will he grow up without brothers and sisters? Will he be spoiled? Here are the behaviors to avoid and the advice of psychologist Rosanna Schiralli to educate children without brothers and sisters peacefully.
In Italy more and more couples decide to stop at their first child. More than 46% of families. To say it is the latest ISTAT data that attest to our country below the European average. No longer just a simple choice of life, but a decision dictated by a number of factors. Difficulties at work, lack of adequate family-friendly policies capable of guaranteeing protection and support, to name but a few. Thus, more and more couples find themselves with a single child to be raised and educated.
“How will he grow up without brothers and sisters? Will he be spoiled? How will he avoid whims and be less protective? These are just a few of the most common questions parents are asked when they have to grow up and bring up an only child. “On the only children”, explains psychologist and psychotherapist Rosanna Schiralli, “a lot has been said, insinuating labels that are not always edifying: narcissistic, solitary, spoiled, selfish, always ready to raise their hands or, on the contrary, to remain passive. In reality, the syndrome of the “only child” does not exist and no scientific study has ever proven the existence of some difference in development between those who are “unique” and those who are surrounded by brothers and sisters. The development of the human being depends almost exclusively on the relationships that the child has with the figures of attachment and the surrounding environment. The spectre of spoiling, understood as an exaggerated way of giving everything and immediately to the child in the (wrong) conviction of making him happy or at least not to make him suffer, appears more accentuated in families with a single child, if for no other reason than that the two parents may be in a position to pour all their affection and all their desires to make their child happy, without having to “spread” affects and desires on more children.
However, the greatest risk faced by single children is, in reality, the opposite. “The psychologist explains that “there is a tendency to make them grow up by always considering them as little adults: the only child often attends the adult friends of the parents, often plays with the adult relatives, and then ends up avoiding the few opportunities for interaction with the peers, considering them boring and not up to the task. It is therefore necessary to encourage, from an early age, relationships with other children, taking advantage of the nest as soon as possible and promoting games and meetings with people of the same age in order to “unhook” the child and you from relationships too adult for a child who does not have the daily opportunity to deal with brothers and sisters.
But what are the most common mistakes faced by parents with an only child and how to avoid them? Let’s find out with the help of the expert.
1. Make him the little tyrant of the house.
The one-child child tends to be at the centre of the world of reference adults (parents, grandparents, uncles, family friends, etc.), taking on the role of those who dispose and decide as much as they wish. This must be absolutely avoided, putting limits and boundaries from the beginning and giving the appropriate “No” when necessary. In this way it favours a better brain structure for quality and quantity of neurons and a consequent better functioning with a good tolerance to frustration.
2. Don’t let him hang out with friends or let him hang out with too few.
Very often, parents of single children fear their child’s social exploration because of overprotection. In the long run, this can lead to an inability to relate, measure and confront others. It can also make it difficult to put oneself in the shoes of others, resulting in frustration, a sense of loneliness and the perception of not being suitable or, on the contrary, of being different (sometimes superior) to one’s peers.
3. Treat him like an adult.
The child is not like an adult who can understand you, stand by you, support you and sometimes advise you. It is necessary not to give in to this temptation, maintaining one’s role as a parent and relating to the child according to the age of the child, remembering that it is a child or a teenager who must be helped to grow. Without role reversal.
4. Focus expectations on the child.
Be careful not to fall into this error. Being the only child from whom you expect the realization of desires that belong more to you than to him. Therefore, when the child finds himself having to choose a path or make a decision, always try to ask yourself whether what you think is his desire or does not belong to you or to your being children or adolescents. An important little exercise that can “save” your child’s life.
5. Exaggerate in praise and gratification.
The child could always seek your approval to make you happy, and then be disappointed in frustrations and failures. So find a balance between encouraging him by rewarding him and offering him the right criticism.
6. Be overprotective.
Excessive protection inhibits exploration and thus the process of building autonomy, independence and self-esteem. Therefore, avoid taking the place of his spontaneous gesture and immediately give a judgment or make a criticism, without first allowing him to experiment or explain his point of view, if he is older.
7. To have grandparents who have different educational and relational behaviors from yours.
Try to talk to them so that they understand that, precisely because they are only children, care must be taken not to feel at the centre of all. Grandparents should also avoid spoiling him or replacing him too much, protecting him from all frustration or praising him endlessly.
8. Make your child too involved in the problems of the couple.
A single child tends to be adultized and very responsible. The temptation to consider him able to understand the reasons for your problem as a couple and maybe even to take a stand is strong. You must absolutely avoid involving him, just telling him that yes, it is true, there are problems, but you are trying to solve them as adults.
9. Giving too much and too much money.
It’s never educational, even if you’re in a comfortable economic situation. Children, especially if they are unique, should be taught parsimony and the sense of sacrifice. Ever since they were little. It is not worth the “I only have this child… I would like to make him as happy as possible”. In the garden of too much, desire and passion cannot grow.
10. And above all: to feel guilty if your son has no brothers.
If he asks you why he has no brothers, simply explain that there are families with only one child and others with more children and that in his life he may have more friends and some cousins.