CHALLENGE #3: I MUST BE THE BEST!
Since parents of only children tend to have higher expectations of their child, Geraldine says it’s important for them to re-examine their standards. “Determine if these are your own insecurities or if they’re realistic. If a child is displaying anxiety or is extremely stressed, often it’s the parent who may have a huge role in this distress, as she is not confident herself,” she says.
Only children tend to be perfectionists. So if you try to redo their chores, you’re reinforcing their habits. Dr Leman advises: “Don’t be an ‘improver’ on everything your only child says or does. Such children are very structured, with high expectations for themselves and others.”
Related story: Will your only child be lonely?
CHALLENGE #4: I’M GRANDMA’S PET
The only child is king, as far as Asian grandparents are concerned. Sally Chew, a public relations manager, says: “Paulette’s the first grandchild, so she gets her pick of toys, clothes, books – you name it! My mum-in-law gives her hundreds of dollars every Chinese New Year and tells Paulette it’s their secret.”
Paulette’s grandfather indulges the 12-year-old, too, with toys from computer stores.
Geraldine admits that such children, who are used to getting their every desire met, may tend to be more egotistic and egocentric. “If (this situation) isn’t rectified early in their lives, they may expect the same treatment in every environment,” she says.
Speak to your parents or in-laws, advises Sally. “When Paulette comes back from Grandma’s with a new Xbox game, I call to remind them. They still spoil her rotten, but they’ve cut back on the cash and expensive presents. I tell them that by giving her what she wants, Paulette will never learn the importance of working for what she wants.”
Geraldine says: “You must be confident about your boundaries and not be manipulated because of guilt – or because you only have one child.”