“Parents are damaging their children by wanting to live precariously through their achievements and by adding unnecessary pressures in their academic and extra curricular activities”
This is a quote from Mr David Hanson the Chief Executive of the Independent Association of Prep Schools which I am sure will be invoking a strong reaction from you as you read it.
It is a brave man who states publicly that Parents are damaging their children!! Damage is such an emotive word to use, it suggests that Parents are harming their children in some way. Good Parents would never deliberately cause any harm to their children but lets look at this from a different angle. ” Do you think you have any limiting beliefs about yourself?” You know the ones….I am not good enough, I am not clever enough, I do not deserve to be loved, I will never be rich, Life is tough, No one listens to me…. the list is endless. I take it you have thought of a couple! Ok so if you have then my next question is this “Where did these limiting beliefs come from?” Yes, the 2 people who influenced you the most from the day you were born, your Parents. Again I repeat that good Parents would not do this deliberately but if your Parents did this to you is it possible that you may unconsciously be doing the same to your children? May be or may be not!
Today we know a lot more about how children learn. We know that the words we use are very powerful. For example, a phrase like’ Practice makes Perfect’ intended to encourage can actually be contributing to the child thinking they are never good enough. We also know that children learn a lot by observing their Parents’ behaviour. So smacking is no longer considered an acceptable form of punishment. If a child is smacked when they do something wrong it is an easy assumption for them to believe it is ok to hit another child, an action we have always believed is unacceptable. With this growing awareness comes better Parenting technics.
In this particular case Mr Hanson is suggesting that Parents are damaging their children by putting far too much pressure on them to achieve. It is true that more and more children are suffering from stress and that really is a sad reflection of the world we now live in. Mr Hanson suggests that whether it is at school, or outside school, in every part of a child’s life their Parents are pushing them to achieve, to be the best and he believes this is detrimental to the child . He also suggests Parents are living through their children and in a sense this causes competition between Parents. I must admit that when I lived in a small village in the Buckingham countryside I was quite shocked at the competition between the Parents on behalf of their children.
So is this constant drive for success a result of Parents trying to keep up with each other? Parenting is such a difficult job because you have to learn as you go a long and in my experience Parents are always worrying about whether they are doing a good job or not. So what can you do to encourage your child without putting them under extra stress?
Allow them time out.
If there is not any time in your child’s weekly schedule to just be a child you need to rethink their schedule. Activities after school are great but in all honesty the school day is exhausting enough without them so an activity every night after school is too much. Do you have Family time? It may seem a little old fashioned to have family time on a sunday but to have one day of the week when the family is all together and can eat and play together is immensely beneficial to all. We all need a bit of down time.
Do not worry about what other Parents are doing.
No one knows your child like you. Do what is best for your child. Do not make a decision because another Parent is doing it for their child. For instance if you decide it is in your child’s best interests to have extra tuition think carefully about how much and who with. Children do not learn well when they are tired so over doing it can make matters worse. However I know of a wonderful tutoring company, Flying Start Tuition in Chesham Bucks, where the children look forward to their extra lessons and get great results. Remember children learn best when they are happy.
Time to Meditate
I know this will be a bit woo woo for some people but I promise you there is a lot of research to show that 10 minutes meditation each day has many benefits to children which include helping them to concentrate, improving their memory and yes reducing their stress levels. I have not yet come across a child who has not enjoyed meditating.
Th joy of being a child is living an exciting, curious, worry free life. How sad is it that children are now feeling stressed at such a young age ?