By Dr Ken Resnick, parenting specialist

Over the years, I have seen many parents who have an only child. A vast number of these children often share some common characteristics, which negatively impact on their ability to deal effectively with the world around them. These include:

  • Spending too much time in the company of adults.
  • An inability to keep themselves occupied if they are not spending time watching TV, playing with iPods, cell phones, etc.
  • An unwillingness to socialise.
  • An unwillingness to share.
  • A tendency to want to control their parents.
  • Behaviour problems such as defiance, lack of respect for authority and other behaviour problems.
  • Poor concentration and underachievement at school.

All of the above issues emanate as a result of poor parenting. Many parents work hard in order to raise their children without a feeling that they are being deprived. Many parents are perplexed by the fact that their child has been given a good home, sent to a good school, has all the latest gadgets and devices that so many kids seem to have, yet are still demanding, uncooperative and morose.


How to socialise an only child 


Parenting an only child

Socialising an only child is very important – they need to be encouraged to engage with friends, either by having them over or taking up invitations to visit. Here are a few general guidelines:

  • Learn to Share

Only children often do not like to share. An easy way to deal with this situation is to pre-empt it. Ask the child before the friends come over whether there are any toys he does not want to share with his friends. These toys can then be put away and not taken out when the friend comes over. He then has to let you know which toys he is happy to share with a friend, but with the understanding that if he then reneges and does not share, those toys will be confiscated for a week.

  • Instil Discipline

One of the main difficulties that parents face is in knowing how to instil self-discipline in a child and help them to be independent. Only children are often doted upon, especially if the parent is unable to have more kids. This usually results in these parents either over-indulging, over-protecting or over-controlling their child. This inhibits the child from exploring his or her world and growing up self-centred and with a feeling of entitlement.

  • Avoid Adult-Only Company

Parents of only children should try to ensure that their child does not spend their free time in the company of adults. If there are no other children at friends that you may be visiting, the only child needs to keep him or herself occupied with some or other activity in another room.

If you are a parent with an only child and you do have concerns, feel free to contact me at

Online workshops are also available. For more information visit our webpage at

Any school or organisation interested in a presentation for teachers and parents should contact me at

Contact Dr. Ken Resnick to find out more about his parenting workshops and public speaking. Learn more about Smart Choice Parenting now.