Although most families continue to have two children, single child families are on the rise due to the increasing cost of raising a child. Parents are also prudent when it comes to child planning. Most working parents have limited time and attention to give so having one child seems like an easier option.
Nonetheless, parents of only children have to face the challenge of loneliness that comes with the lack of natural play buddies that siblings provide. How can parents handle this inevitable solitude that a single child will experience?
The difference between loneliness and being alone
Loneliness is different from being alone. While loneliness includes negative feelings of isolation and sadness, being alone does not necessarily mean that the child is unhappy. Sometimes, the child prefers some alone time away from the others. What causes loneliness then?
Most lonely children face the problems of a lack of confidence, anxiety, excessive shyness and not getting enough attention. They tend to have a lower self-esteem, become attention seeking and spend a lot of time talking to themselves or an imaginary friend rather than socialising with real people. Ironically, pushing a lonely single child to join groups and interact with others will not solve the issue as loneliness stems from the very fear to socialise due to the lack of confidence.
- Build your child’s confidence.
Encourage your child to be creative and passionate about the things he or she likes, be it a hobby or a sport that he or she is interested in. It will also be helpful to encourage activities that do not involve electronics or computer games that will further isolate your child.
- Spend quality time with your child.
I had a friend who disliked having dinner as her parents often worked till late and she grew up eating alone in a big house. Dinner is the time when she feels the loneliest. You don’t have to spend the whole day with your child (although it is good to do so). Just a simple meal or a small chat before bedtime will be enough for you to give all your attention to your child.
- Communicate with your child.
A single child tend to be more dependent on their parents especially if they are shy and introverted. Reassure your child that it is okay for him or her to open up and to voice out his or her opinions. If your child is anxious about a new environment or new people, guide him or her by explaining what he or she could expect so that the fear could be reduced. Loneliness is a common emotion that occurs not only in young children but also in adults. By understanding the nature of loneliness, parents can be assured that lonely children are not problematic. Instead, parents can play a part to help their children overcome the lonely malaise.