As I listened to my colleagues talking about their children's Halloween costumes, I thought about my son's choice. He was very specific about his 2013 selection. He wasn't a zombie or a policeman; he was a policeman who had been infected by a zombie and was transformed despite his extreme resistance.
This Halloween season, I have to be honest and say that I have my own ideas about the costume he could wear. I wished there was an I'm-a-kid-from-a-large-family-costume that would adequately disguise his very real "only child' status.
Let me explain.
As an educator, I have often heard colleagues suggest that certain behaviors can give away an only child.
-The child that gets up from the table and doesn't clean up the remains of his snack
-The student that interrupts others so that she can share her own thoughts
-The young learner who gets frustrated when things don't go his way or a friend wants to plays with someone else
-The socially immature child that isn't skilled at sharing or solving friendship struggles
Before I had my own singleton, I too was quick to explain "these issues" as the result of being indulged and "too well cared for" as only an only child could be.
Now, I try to disguise my own singleton so that his small family status isn't immediately obvious. Since there really isn't a "costume" for such a transformation, I have four suggestions that might help mislead others into thinking your child is one of a larger brood.
First, actively seek out other children for your child to play with when they are not in school. If your child is young, join play groups so that your child develops the social skills necessary to succeed in a school setting.
Second, expect that your child should develop personal responsibility. Make sure that he has developmentally appropriate household chores and is held accountable for their completion.
Third, look for opportunities for your child to help others so that he can see outside of his own small world. Animal shelters, food banks and other places that seek help to continue are all fantastic for giving your child a better understanding of larger issues.
Fourth, resist the urge to respond to your child's every request and need immediately. Obviously, I'm not talking about safety or health issues. It is important that your child develops the ability to wait his turn or be self-sufficient enough to accomplish age-appropriate tasks like getting his own snack or game from the playroom.
I remember a discussion that I had with my son's preschool teacher. This bright educator shared that a casual acquaintance of hers had mentioned how shocked she was to learn that her son was an only child.
She said, "I considered that a great compliment. I know that it had to do with the great lengths that we went to so that he could blend in and easily be one of many."
So now I ask you... Can you figure out an only child walking down your street this Halloween?