Only Child – Can This Cause Social Problems?; Time-Out – How To Make It Stick?

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“Suzanne Gelb Image”

”Only Child — Can This Cause Social Problems?”


”’Dear Dr. Gelb:”’

About a year ago, I terminated a pregnancy for health reasons. Now my 5-year-old is acting up in school and having a hard time getting along with the other kids. Are these problems because he’s an only child? If I’d been able to carry my pregnancy to term and given my son a brother or sister, would he be having these behavior problems?

”’Acting Out.”’

”Dr. Gelb Says … ”

”’Dear Acting Out:”’

In my opinion, the remedy for behavior problems lies largely with the application of positive discipline. By that I mean firm, fair, consistent guidance that is implemented with love.

Regardless of whether someone is an only child or has numerous siblings, unless parents apply the type of positive discipline mentioned above, with consequences for non-compliance, children are at risk for doing what they please. This could include being selfish and self-centered, which tends to preclude getting along with others, be it at school and/or at home.

If I were you, I’d consider setting some rules for what’s appropriate behavior at home and applying some age-appropriate consequences for non-compliance. I’d be sure to keep this regime going with consistency, while at the same time staying in touch with the teachers at school and working with them as much as possible to remedy any misbehavior that occurs in that setting.

”Time-Out — How To Make It Stick?”

”’Dear Dr. Gelb:”’

My husband I have a 5 year old. We use time-out when she misbehaves. We both apply it similarly – we let her know we mean business. Why is she obedient when my husband applies the time-out, but when I do it, sometimes she laughs and treats it like a game? My husband has seen me giving her time-outs and says my tone and seriousness doesn