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Parenting a Single kid

July 13, 2016

Parenting a Single kid

Sharing doesn’t come naturally to most kids.

Developmentally, young children are egocentric and self-centered. Nothing wrong with that but the socialization process requires kids to share their time, space and possessions with others. 

Having siblings usually means that kids, whether they want to or not, have to share. Parents of single children usually have to work hard to develop the sharing habit. It’s not that single kids are any more self-centered by nature but many lack the everyday sharing opportunities.

There are many ways that parents of single kids can develop the sharing habit in their child. Here are some ideas:

  1. Develop the language of sharing: “It’s good to share!” is a phrase that many children, not just single kids, need to hear. Look for ways of developing a rich vocabulary around the sharing of time, space and place. Terms such as ‘give and take’, ‘wait your turn’, ‘be generous with toys’ are examples that kids can become familiar with
  2. Make sure they share with you: Look for opportunities for single kids to share with you including meals, playing games and conversations. Sharing involves waiting as well as giving. so create opportunities at home where single kids can practise these.
  3. Reinforce the sharing habit: If you want more sharing then you need to notice it more and comment accordingly.
  4. Encourage paired activities: Often siblings in families do a great deal together, sharing jobs, hearing each other read, even planning a family holiday together. Look for opportunities for your single kid to work with and play with others so that they learn to the skills of compromise and negotiation.
  5. They don’t have to share everything: Importantly, a child shouldn’t have to share everything he or she owns with others. When a friend comes to visit then discuss the toys and possessions he or she would like to share, and put away those things they don’t want to share.

There are many ways that parents can develop the sharing habit in single kids. The best place to start is to develop a sharing mindset as a parent. Do this and you’ll start to notice sharing opportunities for your child that you didn’t know existed.

Teaching kids how to ask for what they want-

It's important that kids know to ask for what they want!

When children are young, parents can help their children to find the words they need to express themselves. We become experts after a while at interpreting what toddlers say, repeating back to them what they are saying. 
We carry this on into childhood and adolescence, interpreting the silences of young people. While we need to be patient with toddlers, we need also to give older children the chance and opportunity to ask for what they want. 
Sometimes we need to ignore shrugs and grunts and expect them to articulate their wishes. This is the basis of civil behavior, as well as a basic human skill of asking for what you want.

Putting it into practice…               

  1. Help children find the words they need to ask for what they want from you and others. Use prompts such as: “Take a minute and think, and then let me know.” “What would you like me to do?”
  2. Encourage children to ask for what they want in the following way
  • Make eye contact
  • Speak clearly
  • Use a moderate, firm voice as opposed to a loud voice
  • Accept that the answer they receive may not be the one they want
  • The basic task for parents is a teaching task. And teaching kids how to ask for what they want is a simple, but powerful lesson that we can pass on.

Develop positive mindset in your child

It’s exciting to know that your child’s talent and smarts are not fixed. Their brains can always learn more, continue to grow and be stretched. Genetics gifts us with certain abilities that are either developed or they’re not. Instead, your child’s abilities and talents, just like yours, are evolving over time.

So as parent it seems smart to develop a positive mindset in your child. You want them to believe that with effort and practice they can develop their skills and abilities in whatever area or interest they want.

Praise effort, strategy and action not results 

Focus more on the processes of what kids do rather than results to develop a positive mindset. Kids need to hear comments such as “You worked hard to get that right!”(effort), “That was a smart idea, to tackle the hardest task while you were fresh!”(strategy) and “ Most importantly  you were right after the initial few steps.” (action). This type of praise, also known as encouragement, helps kids develop the belief that success has more to do with what they do than innate smarts and talents.

Look for opportunities to stretch your child’s capabilities 

Encourage kids to stretch their capabilities by adding depth and breadth to their list of activities. Boys, in particular, often go deep investing all their time into areas of interest such as sport or online gaming to develop their talents over time. Encourage them to stretch their capabilities across a range of areas rather than a few. Conversely, encourage a child to go deeper in one area rather than showing interest and not specializing in many areas.

Give honest feedback 

Providing your child with honest feedback about their performance not only helps them improve, but also promotes a positive mindset. We often shy away from giving feedback for fear of harming their self-esteem. Confidence can be maintained by being sensitive to how we provide feedback. For instance, focusing on two or three things kids do well before giving constructive feedback is one way you can keep young a learner’s head up while giving pointers about better performance.

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