What Daycare Teaches An Only Child

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When we made the decision to start a family, it never occurred to me that we might only have one child. In every day dream that I ever had there were always two children. I saw my husband carrying a little girl on his shoulders while I held a little boy’s hand. Of course they were perfect well behaved children & we were all full of smiles walking together hand in hand.  After our daughter was born, I woke up from that dream. After what seemed like endless sleepless nights & a colicky infant that cried constantly, we started to rethink baby #2.

Things eventually began to get easier, the cries slowed down, our baby began to sleep through the night & I began talking to my husband about baby #2. His mind had not changed. We went back and forth with it, named off the pros and cons and even asked for opinions here on my blog. It was a hard sell, but after a lot of convincing the day finally came and we began to try to get pregnant. We were not successful. With my advanced age and some medical issues, it seemed that my dreams for a second baby came to an end.

Even though my husband & I were perfectly happy with being parents to our one sweet little girl, there were some concerns about her being an only child. I worried about how it would affect her socially. Would she be spoiled from always being the center of attention? Would she learn how to share? These were definitely valid concerns as I already noticed that Mai had problems in dealing with organized events & classes she was in involving other children.

We recently started her in daycare a couple times a week. Even though it still pains me to send her off to day care, I know that it will be beneficial to her. Being an only child there is much that she can learn from this environment.

1. Sharing: Our daughter came home from daycare the other day and said to me “Mama the kids took my toys.” This made me sad for a moment and then as horrible as this sounds, it made me smile.  While the kids were not actually taking the toys out of her hands, she still thought they were taking them from her because in her mind all of the toys are hers. Other than the occasional play date, she has seldom had to share. She has free reign over a houseful of toys daily.

2. Patience: At home when our daughter wants something she is attended to right way or at least pretty quickly.  She is not accustomed to waiting. With several other children to attend to, her daycare provider is not always at her instant beck & call. At daycare she is not the center of the universe. She needs to wait until it is her turn.

3. Learned behaviors: This can be a good thing and a bad thing as she may also pick up bad behavior, but socializing with other child especially of an older age can be a great learning tool. For instance, my daughter has a difficult time sitting still in her seat & eating, but at daycare we get a report back each day that she sat & ate almost everything on her plate at each meal & snack. I was amazed. Our provider explained that at first she was resistant pushing her plate away as she often does at home, but when the other children continued to eat & talk, she joined in. Hopefully she can take some potty training cues.

4. Basic socialization: We talk with our child all the time, but it is not quite the same as interacting with her peers. After 2 1/2 years of mostly talking to mommy, daddy & nanna, she is now able to chat with children her own age. Today she told me all about her new friend Colton & how he really likes bears, but is still afraid of them too. Oh, the conversations they must have.

5. Dealing With Conflict: All of my friends that have multiple children have kids that fight like cats & dogs. They love each other. They hate each other.  They beat up on each other. Having only our daughter I feel that we shield her from far too much sometimes. After daycare the other day, our daughter told us, “Colton hurt me.” What happened? “Colton pushed me.” I checked with the provider to make sure that it was nothing serious. She assured me that nothing concerning happened, but then I learned that they also got into a verbal argument over a picture in a book. One was certain that the picture was of a boy, the other thought it was a girl. Neither backed down. Debates, conflict, differences of opinion are a part of life & something that should be introduced early. The longer you shield your children from these things the harder it will be for them to deal with at a later age.

I am enjoying listening to all of Mai’s new experiences. She is loving her days with her new friends & is learning a lot along the way.






  1. I was an only child myself until my brother came along when I was almost 6 and my mom also was an only child, because my grandmother had trouble conceiving. I got to tell you my mom more then me truly was never spoiled and even now is anything, but the only child in her attitude and behaviors. She only says that a lot of it was the way she was raised and was never allowed to behave like it was just her, because she grew up around a large family with tons of cousins she would interact with daily. So, I do think socialization plays a huge part and does sound like daycare is truly helping in that area with Mai. I will also admit that as much as my girls have each other, they still many times what their way, but preschool and extra-curriculars like dance and soccer has also helped out a bit.

    1. It has been a great thing for her. We did several classes with her such as swimming, music and gymnastics and she did have issues with waiting her turn for things. This worried me. I think that many times we babied her as well. As soon as she called I would come running. I began to realize this was not good. I no longer drop everything to run to her when she calls. Mai you have to wait mommy is busy. Be patient. She now says to me when I say this, “Patience is a virtue.” Lol. Yes it is. I already am seeing changes with her, just the sitting still at mealtime has been a plus. She talks about her new friends all the time. It is wonderful.

  2. As a parent of an only child (by choice. I simply jut don’t want any more) this is heartening to read. Oscar starts preschool in January when he is just over 2.5 and I can’t wait. You’re absolutely right about the things they’ll learn, not just academically but socially.
    Thanks for the reminder.

  3. I applaud your logic in approaching the way you are bringing Mai up.
    I sense that she will get over all of life’s hurdles because she has sensitive and forward thinking parents. Pre school is great for children and for their moms as are after school activities. I wish you all well on Mai’s next step forward.

    1. Thank you very much for your kind words. I don’t know why it took me so long to see this comment. It got lost in my moderation folder somehow. It has been great for her without a doubt. She is a very outgoing child & loves the social interaction & it has helped her a great deal already.

  4. I completely agree with absolutely everything you have written in this post. My little boy started nursery when he was 1, only for 1 day a week but since we moved house and I returned to work full time he goes for 2 days and the change in him since we changed his nursery and added a day is so noticeable. He now has a little group of friends who he talks about every day! A morning cannot go by without Miles, Archie and Carter being mentioned and yesterday when I picked him up and drove away he said ‘more nursery’ – I think that signifies how happy he is there and I couldn’t be more pleased that he is learning to share, learning about friendships and all the other things you mentioned. I definitely think children benefit from daycare, especially only children. It’s going to be a while before we can afford to start trying for another baby and fingers crossed we are successful but for now it’s good for Zach to be spending time with his little friends! x

    1. I know. Isn’t wonderful to hear the stories about their day and their new friends. I love it. We also only do the 2 days. She is with my mother-in-law the other days. We did classes and play dates but I never realized how much she needed this regular interaction until she got in with this group. It definitely does change them. Good luck to you on the second baby front, but in the meantime enjoy every minute of your sweet boy. 🙂

  5. When I only had one daughter I wanted her in daycare for these reasons exactly! She got the “sibling experience” through sharing and playing with other kids each day. It was so great for her to be around both older and younger kids. It really prepared her well when she became a big sis. Daycare can be such a positive learning experience for kids!

    1. My daughter does love interacting with children off all ages too. She thinks the babies are “Soooo cute.” and she is fascinated by the older kids. I am sad that we were not able to give her a sibling, but I am so happy that she has made a new group of friends.

  6. I can relate to every single things written in this post! We’re now in the middle of summer holiday, but next week my daughter’s preschool will start again, and I can’t wait for that! These past 5 weeks being only with me, I see that her “spoiled” characters (impatient, attention-seeker, selfish) are coming back, slowly but sure. Schools, daycares, and other social gatherings are just so good for the kid’s social development (when they feel comfortable in those places, of course!).

  7. I’ve been thinking about daycare or nursery school for a while now for Myles. I plan on him being an only child and right now he gets very little interaction with kids. We just moved into a new city and are trying to get our finances right, but I can’t help but feel like I am hindering his growth by not getting him into something. I know he needs to learn all of these things, but the money is an issue. I may be getting a part-time job soon, so then he could go. For now I am trying to find something we can do with other kids that doesn’t cost as much. But I am glad I read this because I have been thinking about this for a while now and it justified my feelings.

    1. It is true that daycare is so expensive. There are many mommy groups & other activities that you could probably find to help with the socialization. As mommies we all do the best that we can. Don’t think that you are hindering him. Money was an issue for us as well, which is why my mother-in-law did our child care for so long. It was out of necessity that we finally had to make the decision to enroll her & even now it is only part time.

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