Every parent wants to raise an all-rounder – a child who is happy, healthy, and has a number of achievements to their name. All parents dream of giving their children the opportunities and facilities that they didn’t get as kids. There is nothing wrong with parents wanting their child to get the best; however, problems arise when this desire turns into an obsession.
In today’s age of cut-throat competition, every parent expects the best from their child. Parents who get obsessed with helping their child excel in every department start interfering in their social life. To ensure their kids are able to achieve goals set by them, ambitious parents often start interfering in their child’s academics. Parents who want their kid to excel in sports, start pushing their child to perform well in athletic events. This obsession is slowly becoming a trend. To denote this style of child rearing, experts often use the term hyper-parenting.
It is every parent’s heartfelt desire to help children succeed. While fostering a competitive spirit in kids is necessary, parents must ensure that they are not snatching away their kids’ childhood from them.
Today, kids have much on their plate. In addition to completing their (academic) tasks provided by their schools, many children participate in a number of extra-curricular activities such as
- Music lessons
- Art lessons
- Foreign language lessons
- Necessary tutoring
- Internet classes
Though one can argue that these activities help bring out the best in a kid, imagine taking out time for all these activities. Often the child has no time left for doing things that are really close to their heart.
The reason that some parents give to involve their children in these activities is that they do not want them to get bored. What they forget is that there is no better catalyst for creativity than boredom. Boredom can fuel a child’s imagination. Over scheduling, on the other hand, unnecessarily burdens the kid’s mind which does little to get the creative juices flowing.
Over-ambitious parents often get into a race with one another to see who is successful in raising the perfect child. The prizes in this race include getting admitted into a reputable university or qualifying for talented programs. It is sad to see that over-ambitious parents are more interested in raising an outstanding athlete or a child prodigy who is adept at the art of outperforming competition than a happy and well-balanced child.
Alvin Rosenfeld, M.D. observes that competitive parents will go the extra mile to transform their child into a prodigy. From enrolling their toddler in organized gymnastics programs to insisting that their child attends an early morning piano class, when they should be getting some much-needed sleep, competitive parents do anything and everything it takes to ensure their kids excel in different fields. All this for what? To help create a resume that fits a profile elite universities look for.
Though many parents realize that they are pushing their child too hard, they still insist that their kid takes the path chosen by them for the child. The reluctance to provide any breathing space to the kid results from a fear that going soft may jeopardize the future of their beloved child.
It is not that parents have started feeling this pressure overnight to help their child not just succeed but excel. Parents are being conditioned by parenting experts to believe that every decision that they take will have a direct impact on their child’s future. Unlike experts such as Dr Spock in the olden days who used to recommend that parents should trust their instincts when raising their kids, modern experts use a tone of urgency and authority, which increases parental anxiety. When parents start overstressing about their child’s future, they take tough decisions that, according to them, can help transform their child into an extraordinary achiever.
The pressure also comes from schools that are in competition with each other to produce the brightest students. Every school is under the pressure to show the value created for every tax dollar they receive in the form of fees. Schools react to this pressure by overburdening their students with increased homework, hoping that the practice will enhance future performance.
Yet another factor contributing to this trend is the belief that child development is absolutely linear. Many parents, for instance, wrongly believe that if their child starts comprehending words and reading at an early age, 15 years down the line, they will score higher on their verbal SATs. Such myths motivate parents to push their children to develop skills at an early age. They believe that inculcating important skills at an early age will help their children outshine in competitions.
The End Results
Parents need to be mindful of the stress that can result from pushing their children beyond their limits. Stressed kids can develop major self-esteem issues. Constant scrutiny and hyperactivity can lead a child into believing that they are not good enough. When this happens, the child can go into their shell, often refusing to interact with people around them. Such behavior can impact a child’s overall development. Children with self-esteem issues often find solace in the virtual world. Instead of confiding in friends and family members, stressed kids start turning to latest computer games such as Game Boy and Nintendo to escape the harsh realities of life. When pushed to the extreme, many kids go as far as dropping out of school. The feeling that they’ll never measure up anyway discourages them to the point that they quit trying.
Hyper-parenting is harming our future generations in more ways than we could imagine. Many experts believe that behind the many cases of teenage depression and substance abuse is an obsessed parent who won’t stop until their child has every achievement they envisioned them to achieve under their belt.
It is important for parents to realize that every child cannot be the next Picasso or Einstein. That, however, does not make a kid an underachiever. Instead of trying to live their dreams through their children, parents must act as catalysts helping their children choose the right path. The lesson that a child learns in a playground cannot be provided within the four walls of a classroom. To ensure the overall development of their kids, parents must give them the much-required breathing space.
Ten Recommendations for the Over-Scheduled Family
1. In a family with three or more kids, each kid should be allowed to perform just one outside activity. The rule means the child will sometimes have to choose between two of their favorite activities.
2. If a child wants to add an activity, they will have to give up a current activity.
3. Plan family nights. Consider them as a priority, not a matter of choice.
4. Encourage your child to say no to activities that do not interest them.
5. Before saying yes to a new activity for your child, remember to consider the various factors at play.
6. Assess your irritability quotient. Try to keep a record of how many times you yell at your kids during an average day.
7. Make a rule that no matter how busy family members are during the day, everyone must gather in the dining room in the evenings to have dinner together.
8. Schedule a “goof-off” time for your family. Allocate your child some time everyday to do things that interest them.
9. Encourage every family member to take out time from their schedule for at least a day every week to spend some quality time together.
10. Want to learn how to better schedule your children? To get answers, consult the professionals at family chiropractic center in Rocklin. For more information, connect with us at (916) 624-4553.
Dr. Michelle Arietta has a thorough understanding of the science, philosophy and art of chiropractic to help people improve body function to its highest potential allowing them to live life fully connected. She is passionate about serving pregnant moms, children, and families who are seeking natural ways to stay healthy and vital. Dr. Michelle is a 2002 graduate of Life Chiropractic College West and has completed over 200 hours in postgraduate pediatric and prenatal care and has been Webster Certified by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association since 2002. Her clinic offers cutting-edge diagnostic tools to objectively measure a person’s current state of health, including heart rate variability testing, surface EMG, and thermography. Follow Connected Chiropractic on Facebook and Dr. Arietta on Instagram.