Raising a Single Child

penguin-only-childShould you or should you not? Is now the time to have a second child or should you wait it out? Parents of single children often find themselves amidst these questions, afraid to make the choice, often hoping the situation will resolve itself.

There are many benefits of raising a single child.

a)     A child can be provided focused attention by the parents, resulting in an increased amount of input to the child.

b)     A single child usually gets more time to pursue interests and hobbies be it indoors or outdoors.

c)      The child might feel the need to make friends and may be more likely to socialize more at school.

d)     Single children, perhaps, might also benefit more financially as they might end up getting a fair amount spent on their education and quality of life.

While this is the rosy side of the picture, I am sure there is the other side too. While degrees in which these present themselves vary, there is a significant part that parents need to play to address these.

a)     The child might have feelings of loneliness and become a social recluse.

b)     The single child might be more dependent on the parents especially the mother for all his / her needs.

c)      The child might not have many options of people to confide in especially when he is going through tough times during teenage.

So how does one work around this situation? What’s the recommendation from the parents of other single children? As always, there is probably no one right answer. To each, their own.

There are, however, some best practices which can help make this a smoother journey for the parents and more importantly, for the child.

a)     Get a pet – I have found that having something or someone to be responsible for, to care for, helps a child overcome the feeling of loneliness. A pet can present many interesting ways of keeping a child engaged while inculcating in him / her feelings of responsibility.

b)     Be purposeful about play dates – Planning a single child’s week is much more important than planning the week for a child with a sibling. Who the child spends time with, what they do, how often they meet, can all become important influencers in shaping a child’s behavior.

c)      Establish a communication routine – A single child has fewer options of his / her age to confide in. Many times, communication shut down results in socially unacceptable behaviors. These are best avoided by establishing a communication routine at home by one of the parents.

d)     Maximize avocations – Having a single child is a wonderful opportunity to get the child to focus on a creative hobby or interest be it music or sports or anything else. Anything which is screen-free is a great hobby to encourage.

Are you the parent of a single child? How do you cope with parenting and the challenges it presents to you? Other parents of single children would love to learn from your experience.

This blog post is a reproduction of my blog written for Parent Edge, one of India’s leading parenting magazines.

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Keeping up with Change

running-pixelated-manWe face a lot of pressure in this age of free flowing information, rising expectations and access to resources, especially if you are a parent! It is tough, to say the least, for every parent to keep up with the changing times. It is not just the technology and the gadgets that support it, it is the health consciousness, it is keeping up with the plethora of emergent hobbies and also the rapidly changing education system. It is overwhelming to keep pace with the change for sure but I would imagine every generation might have had its own challenges. Our parents had to deal with a ‘no computer seen ever’ to ‘my child is furiously chatting away on the computer till midnight’ generation. We have to deal with toddlers hooked on to tablets and 12 year olds releasing their music albums or a authoring a spectacular book! Overwhelming is an understatement!

So how does one deal with this overwhelment? Caught in the vicious cycle of ‘need to earn money’ but ‘need to be the perfect parent’, parents are really unable to do any kind of justice to the unstated needs of their children.

For starters, I will quote again the rule #1 of parenting – be present for the child.

If we are not there with the child, unable to listen to what they did through the day, what they learned, it is very unlikely that we will learn about how the world is evolving by observing the behavior of the children. We will only find ourselves repeatedly facing shocks and then hope and pray everything will sort itself out by some miracle.

There are, of course, some things we can do, to keep ourselves up to date with how the world is changing. These are really, ‘baby steps’ though, the key is to get started and be consistent.

a)     Talk to your child once a day about how his / her day was and what he / she learned. I know this might sound silly but most of us know this is sometimes missing even with couples so perhaps with kids, many times, goes unnoticed. It could be the morning or evening or over the phone during working hours but the discipline is a must.

b)     Subscribe to a good parenting magazine / website / blog or get on to some FB groups – whatever is your thing, do it your way, but do try and be hooked on.

c)      When in doubt, consult an expert. I know our tendency is to go to family and friends but we all know that the best practices in parenting might not be adequately exhibited in these circles. What is the harm in reaching out for help?

d)     Think about parenting. This can be a tough one, especially where both parents are working.  We tend to do what comes naturally to us however best we know how to do it. However, being mindful about parenting itself will prod us into doing more research and being more aware about some recommended ways of handling a situation.

In a nutshell, be mindful of the fact that there is a change to deal with and make time to deal with it.

This blog post is a reproduction of my blog written for Parent Edge, one of India’s leading parenting magazines.

Fostering a Love for Learning in your Child

39e721c257a482ad622494e29c8d954aSo, your child does not sit in one place when it’s time for homework? Let us rewind back to the time when the child was a toddler. If you spend a fair bit of time with the child early on, reading, telling stories, writing or just listening as the child was trying to piece sentences together, chances are, you are not going to have to deal with this problem later. If you have been able to get the child into a routine of reading or any other form of age-appropriate learning, the love for learning has in all likelihood, already developed. The child now sees ‘studying’ to learn new things as a way of life and does not find it a chore to sit for completing homework.

The more involved a parent is in the child’s everyday efforts at learning something new, the more likely the child might be to take to learning naturally. Being appreciated for learning a new thing fosters the will and ability to learn more.

So, how does one inculcate the habit of ‘homework’ even though there is no homework when the child is in pre-school? Here are some tips for parents to experiment with:

a)      Invest in Workbooks: Not all parents are internet savvy and not all might want to download worksheets from popular websites or from the school portal. If you are one of those, invest in buying some good workbooks from book shops. Sit the child down everyday, at least once a day, even if it is for 15 minutes and get the child to complete a set of chosen pages.

b)     Allow the child to choose: Dictating the routine is important but dictating what a child needs to study when is not critical in pre-school. Allow the child to choose one of a few types of things to do. You might be surprised how soon a child’s talent for words or numbers is apparent. Encourage the child by awarding stars or paste stickers to acknowledge a job well done.

c)      Make learning integral to everyday activities: Holidays don’t have to mean no workbooks. There are times when holidays are packed with social visits but then there are some when the child has ample time. Weekends can be fun learning time when the child is experimenting with cut vegetables or fruits or flour shapes or other such indulgences that need a lot of time and hence are tough to manage on a weekday.

d)     Make every travel a learning experience: We learn a lot while traveling. It is important to make that learning process conscious for the child too. Every travel can include an opportunity to play games that are portable and fun.

e)      Be excited about learning: If you catch yourself making statements like ‘No homework today! Yeah!’, you are indeed, making a child believe that getting homework is not cause of celebration but lack of it is. Who then, is, instilling the feeling in a child that homework is unwanted and is a burden?

A child learns best via role modeling. Love to learn and a child will follow suit.

This blog post is a reproduction of my blog written for Parent Edge, one of India’s leading parenting magazines.