One is the Loneliest Number,Or Not?
By Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT – Smile Notes
I’m an only child. I was the only chicken in my mother and daddy’s basket. As the song goes, “one is the loneliest number…” Or is it? When I was young, I longed for a sibling—someone to play a board game with or whisper to after I was tucked in. When we drove to grandparent’s home, I was in the back seat alone (actually not as I had my beloved cocker spaniel Pudgie and my sweet parakeet Pepper with me!). As I’ve aged, I kind of like being an only child as I can now appreciate all the focused attention I received. I feel very special—not in a spoiled way, but in a genuine loving way. I am sure there are things I missed not having a sibling, but that seems to be balanced out by the things I gained. One thing I gained was the ability to self-entertain and enjoy my own company.
One of my clients is a 16 year-old boy who is the oldest of five children. His mother home schools all the children in the family. The father works long hours to support them. The children seem to get along very well. They are a lovely family. However, one thing this boy longs for is to interact one-on-one with his parents. I’ve mentioned this to his parents and they promise to “try” to find the time—but never do as there is so much to do in a large family. In fact, the parents are so busy that they rarely find the time to do even group “fun things” to do with the whole family.
No matter how many children you have, there are things you can do to make each and every child feel special:
1. Find at least 5-10 minute a day to give individual time with each child to find out about her day. Do more listening than talking. This is not the time for lectures—just wonderful attentiveness to the child.
2. If this is a two parent home, then take turns with your spouse taking a child out for a special one-on-one time—it could be a donut run or to take the dog for a walk in a nearby park or just go to a fast food restaurant and have a soft drink together. Obviously, rotate this among the children.
3. Eat dinner together without any technology. Have everyone share something about his day and teach the other kids to respectfully listen (eye contact/no interrupting).
4. Take a few minutes to tuck each child in at night. Perhaps with a lovely bedtime story or something funny that happened in your life so he can go to sleep with a smile.
5. When you see your child after school, greet her with a smile and “what was the best thing that happened today?” Be open to sharing your day with her in the same way.
6. Always remember to say "I love you."
My wish for you and your family is a joyful, peaceful, wonderful 2013!
P.S. Please see my other column The Counselor’s Corner.
Copyright © 2013, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from author.
The guide for parents/educators on how to peer-proof children and teens is Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.
Her popular book for teens, How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed., empowers kids to stand out,not just fit in!
A follow-up book for teens, When to Say Yes! And Make More Friends, shows adolescents how to select and meet quality friends and, in general, feel good for doing and being good.
Sharon also has a charming series of five books for elementary-age children each teaching an important living skill and "co-authored" with her savvy cocker spaniel Nicholas who makes the learning fun.Their book on managing elementary-age peer pressure is titled Too Smart for Trouble.