She's more likely to be top of the class
Only children often have a head start says educational psychologist Peter Kendall, director of Child Consultants (www.childconsultants.com
). 'Parents are more likely to be focused on the child and not distracted by others. There's also more time to develop learning skills and follow-up activities.'
He'll have greater language skills
'Children without brothers or sisters develop language rapidly as they're not being interrupted or hindered by other children in the family,' says Peter Kendall.
No sibling rivalry!
'They're spared the squabbling between brothers and sisters, so might be less argumentative,' points out Dr Dorothy Rowe, psychologist, author, and a mother of an only child. 'But make the most of any extended family and keep up contact with cousins or other relatives of a similar age,' she advises.
It's less strain on YOU
Several children can cause friction in a marriage, one child makes fewer demands.
- Only children can be precious. So try not to be overprotective, warns Peter Kendall. 'Children only develop a sense of responsibility if they're allowed to do something.'
- Don't pile on the pressure. It's natural to pin your hopes and dreams on your child. But watch out, are you imposing impossible ambitions on her?
- Encourage sharing by inviting over younger children. Instead of having all the attention, they'll learn how to look after others.
Keep them happy
- Give your only child time to herself without trying to compensate by organising her day to the last minute. Only children often become resourceful adults because they're good at amusing themselves.
- Take up a new sport together. Find one with different age groups, like tennis, so there's scope for socialising with their own age group and later with you. Or learn a new language together.
- Make friends with parents of only children or kids who have older brothers and sisters and need someone their own age. Or consider an after-school club like one of the 7,000 run by Kids Club Network (020 7512 2112).
- Use your one-to-one time to find out what your child's good at, perhaps it's reading, painting or drama. Combine that skill with socialising, Stagecoach runs 328 nationwide weekend drama schools for 4 to I6- year-olds (01932 254333).