Today, I have decided to write on the issue of parents who expect their children to be the best in everything they do. The truth is we want our children to be what we never were and we keep pressing them, pushing them to the limits and sometimes depriving them of growing up just the way they should.
Over the years as a teacher, I have learnt that every child has a talent or gift. And that every child is intelligent in his or her way and can exhibit superiority over their peers in areas where they are gifted or have mastered but as parents do we let them?
What it takes to get the best out of any child is for the parent to believe in that child and make that child feel comfortable even when they make mistakes. But what I have found is that some parents remind their children of the high school fees they pay, the ‘best’ school their children are attending and gradually they end up suppressing or sometimes killing the talent in the child because such children gradually become a shadow of themselves due to fear.
Let me put this in perspective, if Usain Bolt’s parents had forced him to study hard to become the best student in class, he probably would have failed in his studies and as an athlete. He would not have turned out to become the fastest man in the world as we know him.
The question is, what is your child’s gift or talent? Is it video gaming, app programming, sports, literature, music, dancing etc. How will you ever know if you don’t give them a chance to show you what they are good at? Until a child is allowed to thrive in a field where he or she is gifted you just might end up with one unfulfilled child. In some cases, they are unfulfilled mothers, wives, uncles, fathers, husbands etc.
In my study of children who enjoy school, I noticed that pupils with average academic performance where mostly the happy children. They play a lot, sometimes talk a lot and most of the time do not sit on one spot, these kids enjoy themselves because they less pressure from their parents, they play with joy and learn with joy. That is learning with a different approach.
That way their childhood is not taken from them and their desire to achieve in life remains in tact, it is something I refer to as ‘The Balance’. I will write on this in the coming weeks.
What is learning? I believe it is moving form unknown to known. How? Through studying, reading, watching and playing.
Many people have changed learning to “know it by force” which builds fear in a child. Such children study to pass examinations but sometimes they cannot remember even what they read to pass? To impress the parents, the child would probably memorize to score an A because that is what the parent want until they are old enough to know what they want and that is were distance sets in between parents and children.
Anything to the extreme is wrong. Watching too much cartoons, reading too much books, going to parties too much, playing with the neighbours all the time etc is wrong, instead let us plan out a schedule for our children so they can turn out to be ‘complete’ children.
Draft a program that is child friendly, educationally interactive and in a happy atmosphere. A little bit everything. The cartoons, the cinemas, the books, the visits etc.
So parents, do you want your child to stand out in anything they do? Please reduce your expectations, support them, praise their little effort, don’t overstate their mistakes instead correct them in love but finally make sure you have rules for every step and stage.
My personal view, discipline helps every child and even the adults. Once a child knows the rule and the consequences, I can tell you they would always play by the rules it might take a while to sink in but they will adjust. They don’t want to be grounded or deprived of what makes them happy.
A mother once told me of how she stopped her child from lying. They had a party and she asked her son to get a cup of water and because of the excitement he mistakenly broke the cup rather than tell his mum he lied.
The mother got angry and asked for the last time how did you break the cup? Then he said it fell from his hand. One of the ground rules in the house is always say the truth and when you lie you would be grounded. Guess what? After that day whenever he made any mistake the first question asked was, Mum if I tell the truth hope I would not be grounded?’
Let live by the rules and teach them to Love God.
Madame Olieh is an educator, child psychologist and French tutor. She wrote from New York, US
You can reach her via email: email@example.com