Are we demanding too much of our little ones?
Parents who direct their children to a huge amount of school activities, hours dedicated to homework that are swallowed in the middle of the afternoon, the need to make their children stand out in any of the hobbies we push them into … Childhood has its own crises and complications, but it seems that from adult life they are also depositing grains of sand to make that way of life, so carefree and apparently unproductive, soon come to an end.
The goal seems to be to train a generation of “elite children”, competent and equipped with a lot of skills and competencies that are supposed to make their lives easier.
But this trend has very negative psychological consequences.
Putting childhood in check
Some people, when going through existential crises, turn their gaze to the way children live life. It is not surprising; the creativity, spontaneity with which they discover the simple and honest to act at all times ways, the clean look of prejudice … seem to be a feature that we enjoy during the early years.
What happens to this childlike spirit is, to some extent, a mystery. It is not possible to be sure with firmness and total security what it is that little by little that infantile flame that once was in us goes out. However, in certain aspects it is not difficult to imagine possible reasons that explain what it is that kills people’s childhood, or that this abandon our lifestyle at a forced marches. It is not a biological process, but a learned and cultural one: the competitive spirit and the stress it generates.
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We are creating children with curriculum
It is clear that taking responsibility and starting too long means that the lifestyle (and behavior) of children cannot remain unchanged during the passage of adulthood. However, recently something is happening that did not happen before and that makes children less and less children at an ever younger age: the competitive spirit has entered the lives of children.
It has its logic, although it is perverse logic. In an increasingly individualistic society where social problems are disguised as individual problems, the same types of messages are always repeated: “find your life”, “be the best” or even “if you were born poor it is not your fault, but if you died poor it is. ” There is the paradox that, in a world in which the place and family in which one is born are the variables that best predict the health and economic status that one will have in adulthood, all the pressure falls on individual people. Also about the little ones.
And individuals are forced to compete. How can happiness be achieved? Being competitive, as if we were companies, to reach middle age with a certain socioeconomic status. When should you start competing? Sooner.
The path to creating children with curricula , prepared for the law of the jungle that will govern their adult lives, has already been paved. And if left unchecked, it can mean the death of the ability to fully enjoy childhood.
Parents who overreach
Children who end up adapting to the lifestyle imposed by their parents are beginning to show signs of stress, and even have anxiety attacks. Obligations related to homework and extracurricular activities introduce endemic tensions of the adult world into the lives of children which, moreover, in many cases are hardly justifiable without drawing their imagination about what might happen in the future.
It is something relatively new and not always easy to detect, as some parents and guardians confuse the fact that children seem to reach the demanding goals that are set for them with an indicator of their health and well-being. Thus, school children between the ages of 5 and 12 may be performing reasonably well in tasks such as learning to play an instrument or mastering a second language, but in the long term they will suffer stress if the pressure is too high.
Symptoms of this stress, as they are not always very obvious and do not seem serious, can be mistaken as a normal part of the process of raising competitive children. But the truth is that their quality of life will be compromised, and the same will happen with their tendency not to judge each experience according to its usefulness.
Their way of enjoying childhood will be overshadowed by aspirations imposed by parents and that, in reality, are only sustained by what adults interpret as “signs of a successful life”. They are not so dedicated to ensuring the well-being of their children as to imposing on them an image of the ideal person, to whom all doors will be opened.
Fear of failure
But the pressure and pushing children toward success is only part of the story. The other is the rejection of what seems to be useless, which does not provide a clear benefit, regardless of whether it is enjoyable or not. Investing time in being children seems to be valued only as time to rest, relax and gather strength to return to what really matters: the preparation to enter the competitive world, the people market, on the right foot.
In the same way, not being the best at something is perceived as a failure that should be hidden by dedicating time and effort to other things in which you excel more, in the best of cases, or by blaming the child in question for ” not wanting to win. ” The consequences of this are clearly negative: the activity is underestimated as a goal in itself and the result is only valued in comparison to the others.
Showing “weakness” in sports or in school performance is considered a cause for shame, because it is interpreted as a symptom of possible failures that could be experienced in adulthood. This causes self-esteem to suffer, stress levels skyrocket, and the child feels responsible for not reaching goals that other people have set for them.
Conquering childhood again
Even adults may be able to rescue for themselves many values and habits typical of childhood, so it is even easier for children to enjoy it.
To help make this possible, parents and caregivers only have to adopt another attitude and embrace a type of priorities that do not have competitiveness as a reference. This process involves admitting that, although we adults seem more prepared than anyone when it comes to living life, children are the true specialists in their way of experiencing childhood. Forgive the redundancy.