Lets Not Hurry Children Through Childhood

Have you ever experienced one of those days when you wanted to return to the carefree days of childhood when your biggest worry was how you could con your parents into staying up a little longer at night. Have you ever thought that you would like to be a child once more when the biggest decision for the day was choosing which topping put on your ice cream?

While this worry-free existence maybe idealised, there is little doubt that most parents want to capture this carefree, happy feeling for their children.

But many children feel the same stress that adults feel. In a culture that values success they can easily be pressured to grow up to quickly. It appears that the pressure for children to perform is perhaps strongest in the United States.

American author Dr. Gail Gross writes, "Many parents seek to create "super kids," pressuring their children into becoming premature adults and making them overly competitive. Ironically, in their eagerness to create an academic prodigy, overzealous parents often create an underachiever."

My feeling is that many parents in Australia are unwittingly going down the American parental track of raising kids to develop academically at a quicker rate ? i.e. to be smarter and more competent but at a younger age.

Dr. David Elkind, author of The Hurried Child, advises parents to let children be children. His research suggests that students are more likely to have academic success if they were not hurried through their early childhood by parents who overestimate their child's competence and overexpose them to academic experience.

Ironically, when parents release the pressure and focus on developing children's general well being they perform better in the long run. The London School of Economics Centre for Economic Performance followed the fortunes of all babies born in the first week of April 1970 in Britain. There was clear evidence that children with a higher self-esteem at the age of 10 got as much kick to their earning power as those with higher maths, reading and other academic abilities. They had less chance of being unemployed later in life and if they were, they would soon be back in the workforce.

To avoid hurrying children through childhood it helps to honour their natural instincts to play and avoid continually turning their play into work or even some type of learning experience. Play fosters creativity and reduces stress. Play is a life skill that many adults have forgotten about.

It helps for children to have plenty of free time when they can just hang around and basically do nothing. It is strange but in our increasingly achievement oriented culture the notion of free time is equated with laziness or lack of ambition. Adults and children can benefit from some free time when nothing productive is achieved whatsoever.

It also helps to remember that children may act grown up but they don't often feel grown up. While it maybe possible to accelerate their academic development it is impossible to accelerate their emotional maturation.

A post World War 2 British mental health inquiry concluded that the major contributor to an adult's general wellbeing and happiness was the existence of a happy childhood. By ensuring that children have a long, happy childhood we provide a solid foundation for happy, well-adjusted adulthood.

Childhood is an important stage of life that needs to be protected and valued by adults. It is a stage of life worth preserving for as long as we can, not something to be rushed through.

Michael Grose is Australia's leading parenting educator. He is the author of six books and gives over 100 presentations a year and appears regularly on television, radio and in print.

For further ideas to help you raise happy children and resilient teenagers visit http://www.parentingideas.com.au . While you are there subscribe to Happy Kids newsletter and receive a free report Seven ways to beat sibling rivalry.

In The News:

More effective parenting  Rising Kashmir
Editorial: Parenting Michelangelo  Gold Country Media
Bill Text - ACR-112 Positive Parenting Awareness Month.  California Legislative Information
A guide to parenting fat kids  todaysparent.com
Parenting during the ongoing pandemic  Minnesota Public Radio News

Elephants and Teenagers

Something eerily familiar happened in KwaZulu-Natal's Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park in Africa... Read More

Working Moms: Too Busy for Your Children?

17 Quick Ways to Strengthen the Bonds of LoveOn Mother's... Read More

Dads, Handle your Kids Mistakes

One of the most difficult parts of being a father... Read More

Loving Your Step-Children

Loving your step-child can be both simple and hard. It... Read More

Baptisms And Alternative Ways To Hold A Naming Ceremony

Traditionally, babies have been named at a christening/baptism.... Read More

Work Before Play

Many families, ours included, have learned that breakfast is eaten... Read More

Parenting Your Teenager: 6 Tips for Effective Discipline and Consequences

A parent writes in, ``We are having a hard time... Read More

Sanity Savers For Busy Mums Page

Question 1 "How do I get more time to play?"... Read More

The Truth Behind Having Children

In the beginning, having children was just a byproduct of... Read More

Promoting Your Childs Motor Development

Assuming there are no serious motor problems present, what can... Read More

10 Ways You Can Advocate For Your Child With A Learning Disability

Did you know that you are the most important person... Read More

Effects of Jealousy on Childs Personality

Dear friends here we will charge up our mind with... Read More

The Three Best Alternative Treatments for ADHD

There are a LOT of alternative treatments for sale out... Read More

Lifebooks: Every Adopted Child Needs One

Information is gold when you are adopted. Every tiny piece... Read More

Promote Physical Fitness for Your Child

If your child is to derive the benefits of physical... Read More

When Time Out Dont Work

Joey steps away from his time out chair "I won't... Read More

Parenting Your Teenager: 7 Tips for Back to School Success

Blink. That's all we did, blink, and summer is ending... Read More

Raising Strong Daughters

When my daughter was born, I must admit there was... Read More

What To Do With A 6 Year Old Smart Mouth Know It All

Just the other day, I was talking to some other... Read More

Simple Living in a Materialistic World

We were sitting in the family room. My kids had... Read More

Adoption: Laughter and Tears

If you ever walk through an orphanage, it will be... Read More

Selecting and Hiring Childcare Employees

In today's fast-paced society, many families depend on some form... Read More

Keeping Kids Safe on the Internet

The biggest trick some child predators' are using these days... Read More

Top 20 Items To Pack In A Diaper Bag

1. Diapers (5 -7 is a fairly safe supply)2. Wipes3.... Read More

Parenting Your Teenager: 4 Dangerous Myths

MYTH: All teens have to rebel, and the teen years... Read More