Most of us would have come across this image on social media – a monkey, a bird, an elephant, a fish, an otter and a dog, all being asked to climb a tree to evaluate their potential. The point the picture is trying to convey is how ridiculous it is to judge everyone on a single criterion when all have different talents and abilities. Anyone who comes across this picture will agree that this is the unfortunate state of our education system right now.
All students are evaluated against one criterion and one criterion alone – how well they fare in their exams. Right from kindergarten till he completes school and even beyond that a child’s life is filled with examinations, competitions, projects, due dates and special classes. Even extra-curricular activities which are meant to be a form of stress relief have now become competitive!
Understanding a Parent’s Point of View
For parents, bringing up children is obviously a huge responsibility. We want to do what we believe is best for our children and in a country like ours where education is a huge game-changer, we all want our kids to do well.
- We end up putting them in tuitions, enrolling them in coaching centres for competitive exams and putting them under unprecedented pressure.
- We start to make them believe that coming first in class is all that matters.
- We are so zealous in our desire for them to live a good life that we forget that we are putting our children in a delicate and helpless situation.
When they face this kind of pressure from their own parents, who will the children turn to?
- Many parents also wish to see their child achieve the dreams they could not – they want to experience what they lost through their child.
- This is extremely unfair to the child who has his own dreams to pursue.
- Sometimes, parents are convinced that the child is not on the right path, that the career he has chosen is a mistake, and this could possibly be true in some cases but we have to learn to allow our child to make mistakes.
- How will they ever learn if we are constantly protecting them and keeping them from experiencing life on their own!
Parenting is as much about guiding children as it is about letting them go.
For some parents, kids doing well is a recognition of how well they have performed as parents.
- Being able to tell the world that their child studies in a world class institution is a matter of great pride.
- But before pushing kids to secure a place in an IIT or IIM, parents should ask themselves if their kids really have the aptitude for what the field of study involves – will the child be happy doing that for the rest of his life?
Warning Signs of a Stressed Child
A child cannot make out that he is anxious or stressed. But there are signs that parents can watch out for to intervene when the child is in need of help.
- The child is irritable and short tempered
- He is unable to sleep properly or alternatively all he does is sleep all the time
- He is suddenly socially withdrawn
- He seems to lack focus and is listless
- He has trouble concentrating
- He complains of headaches and falls ill often
Often, when the child does not make the choice the parents want, it can be a difficult time for both the parents and the child. However, it is crucial that parents don’t let frustration spoil their relationship. The child still needs them (even if he doesn’t know it) and being there for him through trying times will serve to increase trust and will benefit the relationship in the long run.
- Your child needs to know that despite his choices, your love is unconditional.
- Your child needs your appreciation when he achieves something. Nothing boosts children’s self-confidence as much as a word of praise from parents.
- Have an open communicative relationship. Make it easy for your child to approach you and talk about whatever is bothering him.
- Listen with an open mind and try to understand his feelings before stating your views.
- Make time for your child and indulge in an activity both of you enjoy.
- Share your own experiences with your child. Let them know that you have gone through academic stress too.
- If your child has worked hard, let him know you appreciate it. Sometimes, in spite of working hard, the results might not be what is desired. In such cases, it is all the more important to let your child know that his efforts are recognized.
Excessive pressure can also lead to the child indulging in cheating. Sometimes, the child might refuse flatly to even try out for fear of disappointing his parents.
When your child knows that he has your support, he will be more self-confident. For children, there is nothing quite like knowing that they have their parents’ support. This will help them to not only face difficult situations with more courage but it will also help them handle peer pressure without turning to harmful practices.
Let’s Make a Change
In the year 2021 alone, 13,089 students committed suicide. This is extremely saddening, alarming and disturbing. Obviously, something is wrong. It is time we accepted it, acknowledged it and started working on a solution for this.
Our kids no longer have the time to be kids. Let’s stop pushing them. Let’s stop stealing their childhood from them. Let kids be kids.