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Pushing the child to the limit

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Dr. Jaime Dos Alvaro Gunnerio |
Competitive parents
Parenthood   The child pushed too hard may refuse to respect anybody

Have you ever seen a kid studying piano, playing football, learning two languages, writing essays and - doing the homework? Well, those kids are around us and their competitive parents should be realistic about their kid’s abilities and wishes.

Competitive parents are starting the day with just one thing in mind: "My child must be the best! In everything! Let's go!" Of course, "let's go" in reality means "Go, child, I don't wanna hear you wasn't THE BEST!"

For a child to grow up and become a healthy person, we need balance. There should be a balance between duties and free time, between chores and free will. Homework is to be done, no doubt about it, but there also must be free time, and by that we mean absolutely free time that allows child's brain to rest and process all information it collected through the day.

Studies show that unstructured activity, such as playing with friends outside, it better for children than forcing them to, for example, play piano in their "free time". The point is, children that enjoy unstructured activities are better at setting and achieving goals.

However, there is a problem: parents tend to think that their children have too much free time. As a result, they are trying to organize their day to the last second. There is no doubt that the parent should present different activities to their kid, you never know what you kid will love, but you should stop for a while and think is that maybe too much for a child what must have some free time in the childhood.

The problem arises when the kid must go to piano lessons, foreign languages, writing class, ballet, debate club, and - school. If possible, all that in the same day. This is a very straight road to huge emotional problems later in life.

So, how to recognize competitive parents? It is easy. First, the events are more important than their kids. It's not about their kids enjoying football, it's about "we must win!" If the winning is more important than kid's happiness, that's wrong way to go.

When the event is a burden and not a joy, that should stop. If your kid is forced to go to the activity she's not good at and don't want to go, don't force it and when negative consequences exceed positive ones, stop there. Do not push you kid over the limit, don't try to make the fastest man on earth out of him if he can't do that.

If you are becoming the bigger authority than the professionals, stop. Teachers and coaches are people who know their job, they invested time and money to learn their job and your stepping in might hurt your kid. There will be a lot of embarrassment and kid won't be able to see who the real authority is and that will create a mess in that little head.

So, why some parents are doing this? And, maybe even more important question, what are the consequences?

In the most cases, competitive parents are trying to fulfill their dreams and live again through all that they weren't able to live or achieve. The simple proof for that is that they are almost 100% focused on their children and almost have no their own life. Everything is concentrated on pushing the kid to go further, stronger, and better.

But the real problem is the young mind. The first problem it that children can come to hate not just one activity, but all of them, and in the puberty they will make a distance from their parents, sports, and in the end school.

The next problem is the sentence "I have a problem with authorities". This is a very dangerous sentence because it may be a signal for a developing anti-social behavior or, in less worse cases, laziness. The kid pushed too hard may simple refuse to respect anybody and anything which leads to conflicts with other people, and may even lead to criminal activities.

And in the end, if those children manage somehow to pull out of their parents' huge expectations, the question is how they will raise their children. Since we all learn from our parent, they will either make the same pressure on them or they will go to extreme and give them absolute freedom. So, they will have very hard time to find the right balance and they will be on a good path to make the next generation equally trouble-bound.

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