Tune into any channel today, andyour are bound to be bombarded within the first ten minutes with at least 3commercials about how you can make your child faster, stronger, smarter with anarray of products. These commercials are truly a reflection of the parentingstyle in the 21st century! Take the health drink commercials as anexample. Why would these commercials show a child running from pillar to postattending different extra-curricular activities after a full day at school andstill running on “full battery”? Or for that matter why would they emphasizethe fact that a child has grown a full inch taller than all his class mates,because of this energy/health drink?
As a generation, we are trying hardto be the best parents we possibly can. This daunting task is being made evenmore difficult because we have unwittingly bought into the idea that anover-scheduled, frenetic, hyper-parenting child rearing style is the best wayto raise children. So what exactly is hyper-parenting you ask?
Hyper-parenting’ is a term used todefined parents who over-schedule their child’ lives with too many activities.Giving a child maximum exposure and keeping him/her busy is a priority for suchparents. In fact, this breed of parents become so involved in every detail oftheir child’s academic, athletic and social lives that they find it challengingto just let their child be. According to the American Academy ofPediatrics, filling up a child’s schedule with too many activities cansignificantly increase their stress levels. While individually extracurricular activities are valuable – but combined, they have a tendency tooverwhelm a child. So, ever wondered when did we sign up for the rat race toraise the perfect child?
It’s in the quest for perfection!Every parent wants to be perfect and it is this secret ambition to be the bestparent that drives the process. And while some parents claim that they involvetheir children in these activities so that they don’t become bored, many othersfeel that their children should miss none of the opportunities they themselvescouldn’t avail of during their childhood – even if the child is not interested!
Clearly, we as parents need torecognize that little minds have to be allowed ‘down time’ in activities suchas reading together, playing board games or merely sitting and talking. It isduring this down time that parents and children can truly discover and enjoyeach other. Moreover, the down time that parents usually term as boredom isoften a catalyst for creativity among bright young minds! So, here are sometips to help you avoid hyper-parenting and let you enjoy your child’s childhoodinstead:
- Limit Activities: Think long and hard before signing up for new activities. Weigh the benefits of participation against the cost – time, energy, logistical effort, stress, and expense – to you, your child, and the rest of the family.
- Evaluate the advice: Be discriminating about the advice you pay attention to. Experts should help alleviate stress, not add unnecessary anxiety to an already overloaded life. For e.g.: Do not rush into believing every new nutrition study you come across, changing your child’s diet plan accordingly overnight, there maybe another study that comes up one year later, that is completely contradictory to the first one. In most cases, moderation and good judgment are the best standards.
- Give Yourself a Break: Your family life is meant to be your own creation, an ever-shifting balance between, your children, your spouse, your family and friends, and the community at large. Do it your way, there is no one rule that you need to apply.
- Character Counts: A lot! Know that how you live your life in front of your child matters more than how you tell him/her how he/she ought to be living his/hers. Character lasts a lifetime. Live the values that are important to you, because your children will emulate your daily conduct when they grow up and go out into the world.
- Be Unproductive: A life that consists of endless activities demonstrates to our children that we expect them to be hyper-active workaholics who run from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. with no rest. It tells them they need to work hard at perfecting themselves, and also that we don’t believe they are “good enough” as they are. It is good for families to spend unproductive time together – shooting hoops, taking walks, playing games, sitting and talking, reading, as it helps the child raise his/her self esteem and self confidence.
- Childhood is a Preparation, Not a Perstrikeance: Children should not be judged on every aspect of their perstrikeance in life – it puts too much pressure on them, and too much pressure on us. By definition, children are immature and should not be expected to perstrike to adult standards. Resist the pressure from coaches, and the media, that tells you how to push your child to excel early.
- Leave Empty Spaces on Your Calendar: Parents worry about kids’ boredom, so they schedule their lives to keep them busy. But empty hours teach children how to create their own happiness – and that is an important skill we would all benefit from developing. Unscheduled time encourages children to create, imagine, see new possibilities that no one before has thought of, certainly no one designing scheduled or pre-packaged play. It teaches children to fill their own empty time enjoyably.
In conclusion, you may only behyper-parenting because of what you’ve read or been told by others. Don’tbelieve the experts who tell you they know how you ought to raise your child.When it comes to your family, you are the expert. You are the best partner yourchild can ever have. Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do, don’tyou?