Are We Pushing Kids too Hard?

Dec 11, 2010

Counselor speaks...

Mrs Kumar brought her 10-year-old son Akshay to me. Her concern was that he often complained of headache, non-stop cold and cough. He did not show any interest in studies. He did not want to go to school and never completed his school work. Teachers also complained about him very often. Sometimes he would sit blankly, watching the sky and birds.

Both Mr and Mrs Kumar are working and they do not have time to sit with him for studies. So they send him for tuitions after school so that he does not waste time watching TV and playing at home. She also took him to the doctor where she found out that everything was normal.

Akshay had been a bright child and scored A+ in all the subjects earlier. He says that now he gets up at 7 am, leaves for school at 8.15 am and comes back only at 3.30 pm. He goes for tuitions at 4 pm which gets over at 9.30 pm. Then he comes home, has dinner and goes to sleep.

Deepthi, a std IX student was referred by her class teacher for counseling. Deepthi says she feels nervous to talk to anyone or to perform on stage. She also feels tensed as exams approach. Her parents expect her to score high marks. Most of the time, she forgets what she studies. She goes for tuitions twice a day and once back home she spends all her time on studies till she goes to bed. Her interaction with her family members is only during dinner time, weekends and holidays.
Carol, a 12-year-old girl was brought to me by her mother. She says that Carol does not show any interest in studies. Her grades are down in spite of having enough time for studies and going for tuitions. Carol says she gets up early morning to go for tuitions and after school she goes for swimming and for dance classes during weekends. By the time she reaches home she feels tired. When she sits for studies, she feels sleepy.

Do Akshay, Deepthi, and Carol need to study so many hours a day? Where is the time to play, interact with parents and do creative things which they would like to do – watch or learn something new other than academics?

All parents want their kids to be the best, perfectly behaved, well-dressed, competitive, top his/her class with A+ grades and so on. We seem to expect perfection. In pursuit of this perfection we pressurise and push the children beyond what they can cope up. As a result the child feels lost and confused. His/her self-esteem comes down and confidence is shaken.

These days kids have tight schedules like MNC executives. Today, most of our kids are deprived of being a kid and denied their ‘care-free’ activities. Where are the evening games which children used to play in the neighbourhood? Do we get to hear their laughter, screams, joy, cry etc? Where are the exploring ways of watching sky, birds, earth, ants, flowers, plants, trees, new roads and new games? All these are disappearing! Soon our children won't even have sweet memories of their childhood.

Evening play is as much important as studies. It provides a favourable atmosphere and an opportunity to socialize which kids require. Play provides physical exercise which is essential for growth – both physical and mental. It boosts their overall health and happiness quotient. It also helps children to do much better in school work.

A child’s first relationship in his/her life is with the parents. So have a family time. There are a lot of questions to be answered by parents. There are lots of experiences to be shared by your child about school and friends. They want ATTENTIVE LISTENING EARS! Take your kids along with you for simple tasks like washing, cleaning, cooking and also while relaxing. Reading small story books to them or sharing with them some inspiring stories, playing indoor and outdoor games and going for a stroll with them will definitely uplift them in no small measure.

For parents who often worry about their ward not doing well at school, it is important to discuss and identify the problem so that remedial therapy can be started at the earliest.

Set limits and boundaries and be consistent in following the rules. If your child makes mistakes let him/her face the consequences also. Don’t forget to appreciate their efforts. Respect their ability and interest and don’t take away their hopes. Express your love with hugs and kisses. Your child will grow up just fine.

A Few Tips:

- Let children make choices
- Show respect for child’s struggle
- Don’t ask too many questions
- Don’t be in a hurry to answer
- Encourage children to use sources outside home
- Don’t be too protective. Let children face disappointments
- Praise whenever children behave appropriately
- Listen to them attentively
- Empathize with child’s feelings and expectations
- Follow consistency in discipline

By Lugina Miranda
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Comment on this article

  • Sylvia Noronha, Pune

    Mon, Jan 24 2011

    Its worth it..

  • Lavina Rego, Udupi

    Tue, Dec 14 2010

    Very good article, like this articles keep on publish.

  • Ganapathi.Pai, Mangalore

    Tue, Dec 14 2010

    very nice article.Hope whoever reads realises their responsibility towards their children. By pushing to much we are ourself spoiling our childs future. Good article. Keep writting such good articles.

  • Nice Article, Ashok Pereira

    Mon, Dec 13 2010

    Nice article Lugina

  • Roswin Miranda, USA

    Mon, Dec 13 2010

    Aunty Lugina, excellent and useful article...Keep on writing....All the Best...

  • Tasse, Goa-Kuwait

    Mon, Dec 13 2010

    Your article should be an eye opener of all parents and stop blaming their kids. Living in Gulf for more than a decade I fully agree with you that working parents here cannot devote time to their kids, as some even have to work overtime and some part time to make ends meet.

  • Oliver Sutari, Manipal

    Mon, Dec 13 2010

    This is in response to Rani's comments. In fact, only parents are to be blamed. I am a father of two kids. One is now in his 4th year Mechanical Engineering and the second one is in the 5th standard. Neither my son, who studied in Doha, was found to be studying long hours nor my daughter. They had more than ample time to sit with us, share their stories, as well as do their homework. Neither of my kids took tuitions. As parents we have always remained satisfied with our children's performance. Importantly, we are proud that our children exhibit the traits of children that have been loved at home. This is easy to identify. You can tell a child that is loved from a child that is not.
    Tuitions have become a quick-fix measure for a lot of parents, who don't have the time to be with their kids. It is very true that we expect a lot out of our kids, without allowing them to be what they are - kids. In case anyone reading this has other ideas, both my kids studied in the CBSE syllabus. Not once did I find that they were overburdened to the extent that my wife and I did not have the time for them. Fill your child with love and attention and see the magic happen. A child's life goes way beyond studies and getting marks. Lastly, blaming someone will never solve our problems. For further guidance, you may read my articles that appear in this very portal.

  • Rani, Udupi/UK

    Sun, Dec 12 2010

    All of us can blame the other for child's development but in reality the system of education needs to be changed in India. For this to happen, the societal outlook on 'education as investment' needs to change. When I see children abroad I really feel proud of our Indian kids becoz they are much knowledgeable than others. I feel proud of myself for having my studies done in India becoz it gave me the power of knowledge, understanding and analysis. Most educated Indians can survive the worst case scenarios in their professions but sometimes when it comes to ground reality of living we do lack skills. So schools ahould aim at providing education that helps build the confidence of the child, ATLEAST NOW STOP THE RANKING AND GRADING SYSTEM for small kids. Its too much competition in such a small age. Ofcourse children need to play but how many homes in metros have place for kids to play? How many parks are available for them? How many football/cricket grounds there for them? Very few, so stop blaming only the parents! WE NEED TO CHANGE MUCH MORE. Parents are just following what school expects of them. In this current scenario, both of them need to work to fulfill their children's dreams. YES, THEY NEED TO MAKE TIME FOR CHILDREN. But thats not enough. There should be LESS PRESSURE from schools only then they can be free of long tuitions and long hours of studying.

  • Supriya Sequeira, Dubai

    Sun, Dec 12 2010

    Nice and timely article.Yes..
    its not always a brilliant student does good in his/her professional life.The child needs to be creative also.

  • Sunita Menezes, Bantakal/Dubai

    Sat, Dec 11 2010

    NICE ARTICLE, If anyone ask us a question saying do you want to go back to your childhood we all will defenetly say 'YES", So with your kids you get an golder opportunity to live your childhood again!! Be a good friend to them and all your problems will solve!!

  • Arun Joy, Mlore/Dubai

    Sat, Dec 11 2010

    very nice article.. nowadays every parent wants their child to be first in class.. only one student can be first not all.. whatever a child does is the best at his/her level.. once you finish studies no one will ask the marks or grade.. its the ability and creativeness of a person counts..its not always a brilliant student does good in his/her professional life.. so parents need to make their child capable and not forcing to be first in class.

  • A.S.Mathew, U.S.A.

    Sat, Dec 11 2010

    Mr. Madhu: "But at the cost of what, I don't know". You are very right. Nobody counted the final cost.

    After four decades of life, I have met many successful people of Indian origin, both academically and
    financially. But now I am faced with two other new group of people.

    The first group of people, never enjoyed life. I have not seen them wearing good clothings, or eating in a decent resturant. They were running day and night to have more stocks and bonds, also one real
    estate empire. Now, they look so depressed and disenchanted due to their crashed dreams, and
    feeling like the day they were landed in the U.S. with a few dollars in the pocket, crying about the wasted years.

    We must do everything possible to give an excellent education for our children, but learn their
    strength and weakness first.

    The second group is far worse. They worked so hard from day one, putting all the dreams to have
    a greater future for the children. Without knowing the children's mental and academic strength, pushed them to the deep water. A good majority of the children didn't reach the other side. The children were depressed, caused embarrassment to the struggled parents. So, left their home and hometown to far off places. Many parents don't know, where their children are living.

    We don't have any right to blame them, because it is human nature. But I must put "some" blame on
    "extreme greed and foolish pride".

  • Madhu, Bangalore

    Sat, Dec 11 2010

    Very few parents really understand that kids should be allowed to be kids at their age especially in metropolitan cities like Mumbai and Bangalore, parents want to put their kids to the so called best schools that pressurize the kids with too much teaching and homework. In Blr, some educated parents are now moving away from the traditional schooling system and putting their kids in schools that allow holistic development with less pressure esp the Montessori way. I have met parents who boast that their 3 yr old kid can write, count and do many more things. But at the cost of what, I dont know? The choice of a child's mental health is in the hands of the parents after all...

  • Bulsam, Mangalore

    Sat, Dec 11 2010

    There are generally five reasons why children do not do well in school:
    Learning disabilities, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), Physical or mental problems, Child abuse or neglect or Lack of proper teaching.
    Any one of these reasons, if present by itself is enough to cause failure in school, but often more than one of these reasons is involved. Most young students have problems in the first three categories, which are the most common ones.
    To become a successful person, other than education passion, dedication, knowledge and hard work are also necessary ingredients. Do not force feed anybody instead persuade them to get started with minimum education and later get some experience under their belt, things will become easier and easier for a successful future.

  • A.S.Mathew, U.S.A.

    Sat, Dec 11 2010

    We parents, when get too ambitious
    to create our own children to be super-educated and
    successful children in the worldly
    standards, may be forgetting that
    we are indirectly robbing their
    childhood and youth.

    If our children are not emotionally
    healthy and duly developed, even with all
    the big degrees they may have in the academic circle they will be
    total failures with drug problem,
    anti-social with broken marriages.

    We should never put more burden
    upon their heads, than actually
    they can carry.

  • Shrinvas Kamat, Edinburgh/UK

    Fri, Dec 10 2010

    Recently I took my grandkids to India to meet my relatives & friends. Everyone was asking them What standard they are in and what marks they get. No one ever asked Who are there friends, what game they play, what movies they watch. India is grate today but no one enjoy life.

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