Are you putting undue pressure on your child intellectually?
“Parenting is a huge job that comes with so much responsibilities,” says Mrs. Oluwabusayo Adebowale, Director, Inspired Kids Network. You, out of love, desire to give the little humans in your life the best you can afford, you vow to propel them to heights you never attained and see that they become the best that they can be.
This can make parents place perfectionist demands on children. So many parents fall into the trap of comparing children’s developmental milestones. Nothing crashes a child’s self-esteem as fast as direct or indirect comparison with another. The truth is, when you start comparing your child to others, you’ll lose sight of the unique attributes of your child. Children are unique and special in their own way.
“Frankly speaking, the educational system of our country Nigeria has also contributed to this problem, as the emphasis on paper qualification or certification over actual abilities is a major sponsor. Even schools have bought into this philosophy as even toddlers write exams and are graded by position. For this reason, so many parents are desperate to see their children measure up on paper.”
Adebowale said that recently, a mother on a support community for mothers she belongs to, recounted how her husband met a home-schooled toddler who blew his mind away with his knowledge level. “This young child of 21 months could identify his colours, shapes, numbers and could communicate in long fluent sentences. Her husband suddenly felt that their 22-two-month old son who could count up to 30, loved to sing, knew his alphabets and could communicate in a few words was not measuring up. This is the story of many parents, they begin to place unreasonable expectations on children instead of celebrating their uniqueness and letting them learn at their pace.
“They start getting worried that a three-month old isn’t sitting, a 10-month old isn’t walking, a one-year-old has just two teeth, an 18-month-old isn’t talking fluently and so on. Parenting on the overdrive places undue pressure on children to perform. What then happens when they are not able to perform?
“I remember my elder brother slunked into depression and began to contemplate suicide because he had an extra session in the university. Can you blame him? We were brought up with the notion that you were as good as your performance. I hear my dad’s voice in my head now and some of his words ‘Bury your head in your books!’ ‘Why should you come second in class? Does the first person have two heads?’ My father did the best he could at the time, given what he knew. However, we have to do better with the children God has committed into our hands.”The parenting enthusiast and mum noted that some children actually go through the motions and amass knowledge but are oblivious on how to apply it unfortunately.
She continued: “Isn’t that why we have graduates with sparkling certificates in Nigeria who cannot defend their certificates with commensurate practical output? The purpose of knowledge is for life application. Life is more practical than theoretical; if your children have practical wisdom then the theories will just be a piece of cake. Can we teach our children to know things first for the purpose of learning, put the brakes on perfectionism and comparison while celebrating their every effort?
“As a parent its always easy to talk about the things your child is doing right while parading them as a trophy, but what happens when the child doesn’t meet the set expectations? Personally, I think the real challenge of parenting is loving and celebrating our children through their low points. Children who have not learnt to assess challenges and failures well will grow into adults with low self-esteem.
“I strongly believe that if we can groom self-confident children who don’t see a fall as their end, but will rise back with dignity no matter how hard they fall, then we have tried. As parents we need to examine our motives always as over-driving perfectionism parenting could be played out even subconsciously,” Mrs. Adebowale concluded.
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