There are probably fewer things in life that are as challenging as raising a child alone. Children growing up in single-parent homes may also find it hard to deal with not having both parents in the household. The good news is that challenging situations have been known to breed some of the strongest and most resilient individuals who have ever walked planet Earth. While it can be tough with only one parent in the home, you can meet your young child’s emotional needs with consistency and dedication to her overall well-being.
Giving Praise and Encouragement
It may be stressful being a single parent while also trying to balance work and your personal life, but your tot is especially in need of praise and encouragement during this developmental stage. Dr. Sears suggests that kids at this stage are trying their best to please their parents and win their approval. Offer your child praise for things like making good choices, practicing cleanliness or being kind to others. Try not to get carried away with the praise, though. There’s no need to have a praise party when your child steps out the front door or puts on his shoes. Giving your child sufficient praise helps him feel good about himself, which helps develop healthy self-esteem.
Freedom and Independence
Kids at this stage love to exercise their sense of freedom and independence. Of course you will want to teach your child to use her freedom wisely by making good choices and being responsible. If your child has issues with temper tantrums or displays developmentally appropriate defiance, keep your cool and try to teach your tot that she can choose how she will behave. When she makes a good choice, revert to giving lots of praise. This allows her to exercise her freedom while learning to be responsible with it.
The last message that you will want to send to your child is that you are not paying him any attention. Again, the single parent life can be very stressful and challenging, but showing a lack of interest could be damaging to your child’s emotional development. When your child comes to you to show you his latest preschool project, try to show sincere acknowledgement of his masterpiece. When attending your child’s extracurricular activities, try to be present for the event instead of using that time to catch up on work.
Spend Quality Time
Your child’s emotional development will be strengthened by the amount of quality time she spends with you. Reading to your child, enjoying outdoor hobbies together or engaging in playful days indoors will show your child that she is so valuable to you that you choose to spend time with her. This also does wonders for your tot’s self-esteem! Your child may miss having her other parent in the home, but she will delight in the quality experiences that the two of you have shared.