Is Aloneness The Same As Loneliness?
One of the vital concerns of parents of only children is “Will my child who is growing up alone turn into a “lonely” person in his adulthood?” Before we venture into the topic further, we must ask ourselves a question- “Is loneliness the same as aloneness? Or is there a difference?”
Loneliness is defined as a disquieting feeling of isolation and exclusion leading to a longing for company. Aloneness on the other hand tends more towards solitude and ‘being with oneself’. While a lonely child could be bored or frustrated due to lack of things to do or people to talk to, an only child having his time alone could actually be relishing it.
Addressing the question of loneliness amongst only children, experts concede: A child’s development is affected by two kinds of influences- those that are present, and those that are absent. While the absence of siblings may indeed have an influence on the only child, the parents can ensure that the nature of influence is a positive and advantageous one.
Benefits of being an Only Child
Some of the beneficial influences of being an only child, growing up sans siblings are:
- The only child who is the sole recipient of the parents’ entire attention can grow up feeling very secure and much loved within the family. This in turn may give the child an extraordinary level of confidence leaving him amply empowered to face the world in future.
- Only children more often than not develop an uncanny knack to entertain themselves. In order to fill their time alone, they will find newer and creative ways to stay engaged instead of depending on external sources (like playmates or siblings) to keep themselves occupied. Studies show that only children can grow up to be very self-reliant and poised individuals.
However, one has to constantly keep a watch on how the child uses his time alone and ensure that he is not isolated or lonely. Providing your child with a healthy mix of enjoyable company and productive time alone can help him grow with a sense of balance and equanimity.
…and some tips
If you live in a large neighborhood with many children, encourage your child to visit his friends’ homes and invite his friends over on play-dates or sleepovers. Let your child bond with his friends beyond the playground.
Help your child to make his time alone productive. Is he simply watching TV and playing video games or is he engaged in something creative and fulfilling? Monitor that, and channel his interests. He can also learn an expressive art like music or painting.
However, there may be periods when your child is without company or at a loss for an idea to engage himself. During those times, you as a parent can come forward to fill in the gap. Make time for your child. Step out to kick a football or grab a bat to play with him. Willing involvement from a parent can do wonders for the child and create newer bonding opportunities for you and him.
The key to an only child’s balanced growth is in assessing the fact- “Is my child lonely or is he simply alone?”
Of course, for you to answer that question you should be able to tell the difference between the two!