Resources & Tips
parenting tips

I only have one child and don't plan on having more.

If you're the parent of one child, you've probably heard the negative rap about only children. A lot of people in our society assume that an only child will be lonely because he doesn't have siblings, selfish because he doesn't have to share his things with brothers and sisters, and spoiled because he is lavished with undivided parental attention. There is also a sense that the best thing parents can do for an only is to present him with a brother or sister--that his experience of life will always be incomplete without a sibling.

These fears only lead to parental guilt, as well as unhealthy efforts to overcompensate for an only child's perceived disadvantages by giving her too much attention or too many material things. Parents should know that the development of positive self-esteem and successful social skills does not depend on a child having siblings.

The following three tips can help you avoid some of the potential pitfalls of being a parent to an only child:

  1. Don't Be Hyper Vigilant
    Parents of only children can often be too cautious or overly protective, and they're often afraid to let their kid take any risks. But children need the space to grow and develop their own sense of self, apart from their parents. You should allow your child to experiment, remember that it's normal to feel nervous during many of a child's "firsts" (first school bus ride, first walk to the corner store alone), and try not to let your fears show once you're certain that your child understands your safety rules.
  2. Encourage Diverse Relationships
    Your only child doesn't need to feel lonely. You should make a special effort to help your child foster relationships outside the home. Maintain contact with members of your extended family, involve your child in play groups at an early age, and make your home a comfortable and welcoming place your child's friends and playmates.
  3. Don't Forget to Pay Attention to Yourself and/or Your Marriage
    Your child needs to know--not just by your words, but also by your behavior--that as much as you love her, her needs do not always come first. Often an only child becomes the central focus of all your attention. Don't let the spotlight fall too heavily on your child's wants and needs and not enough on your own.


More Solutions to Parents' FAQs can be found in Nancy's books and articles found below.

Antidotes to Spoiling Kids
No parent sets out to raise a spoiled child. Here are antidotes to spoiling kids . . . and not just over the holidays.

How to Know if your Child is Spoiled
Are you caught in these spoiling traps?
Find out the traits of a spoiled child and learn to show love without spoiling.

• Sibling Rivalry
Learn nine solutions for handling sibling rivalry.

Have Your Kids Take the Sibling Survey
This unique questionnaire for parents to give their children will help parents better understand sibling and family relationships and offer clues to how kids really feel about their brothers and sisters.

Positive Discipline
Positive discipline alternatives to yelling, nagging, bribing, threatening and punishing.

Avoid Spanking
Spare the rod: to spank or not to spank?


Eight Weapons in the War on Anger
Nancy offers parents & Educators effective skills to handle their anger without hurting or insulting kids.