It was reported yesterday that UK chief inspector of schools, Amanda Spielman, feels that we’ve got to a stage in the UK whereby children are being wrapped in cotton wool and this is preventing them developing resilience and grit.
This is just one of many stories published in the past couple of years suggesting that the now over-strategised nature of childhood is having a number of negative impacts on the children who are subject to over-the-top measures in schools and particularly, within their homes.
Without question, one of the best things in the world is being lucky enough to have supportive parents. But there is a fine line in this support becoming suffocating and ending up as one of the worst things in the world for a child.
As ever, the education system seems to be becoming more competitive and it can be argued that in Britain we are now seeing a growing trend of “Tiger Parenting”- the act pushing one’s child to their limit through strict and demanding schedules aimed at attaining high academic attainment and excelling in a range of extracurricular activities.
While it’s important to want the 'best' for one’s child, what an increasing number of parents have failed to realise is that the ‘best’ varies for each child, depending on their own interests, ambitions and motivation.
Quite simply, not everyone can be an academic star, a musical prodigy, or sporting talent. And not everyone wants to be.
The ultimate aim for anyone in life, child or parent, is to be happy. And despite that being the sole aim, parents need to realise it can be fulfilled in infinite ways.
Parents don’t realise that academic success often has little bearing on career success. That ‘B’ &‘C’ students are much more likely than their “more successful” classmates to become entrepreneurs and self-made millionaires.
Parents don’t realise that by exerting more control over their children that they’re more likely to suffer from psychological damage in later life. If a child has no say in her diet, hobbies, or who she hangs out with, then that’s only going to result in suffering on her part, despite the best interests of mum.
Parents don’t realise that spontaneity makes children happier. In ditching the overpacked schedule, a child is able to explore, be creative, and ultimately, have fun (sometimes by just doing nothing).
All parents realise that they simply want for their child to be happy. But many don’t realise that there is no magic formula for this.
The best bet is to encourage but not push.
Encourage them to work hard and do their best.
Encourage them to find hobbies and learn new skills.
Encourage them to pursue whatever career pathway they feel will bring them the most joy.
They’ll find ‘success’ in their own way. And they’ll find happiness their own way too.
“A happy childhood is one of the best gifts that parents have in their power to bestow.”
Don’t misuse that power.