The Fine Line Between Encouragement and Pressure

Children today have many more opportunities available to them. What they get to sample on a weekly basis is mind-blowing. As well as potentially pressurising your child, and them over-doing it, juggling sports practices, music lessons, homework and play dates  can be a complicated balancing act for parents.

There is a fine-line between a highly enriched, interesting, growth-promoting childhood and an overscheduled childhood – but where that line is nobody really knows.

The real problem lies with those parents who are highly successful or who have a high degree of control over their own lives and who try to take similar control over their children’s lives. This often leads them to make choices about after-school activities out of anxiety instead of interest in their child’s well being.

If you are able to, allow your child to experiment and try as much as possible so that they can identify what they do and don’t enjoy without putting pressure on them – listen to your child and their intuition.  And when a child enjoys what they are doing, encourage and support them without putting on pressure to perform – ask questions, show interest, and get a feel for their enthusiasm

Parents should be less fearful that their children aren’t getting ahead and focus on their quality of life: are they getting enough sleep? And do they have enough time to do their homework? Enrichment activities add a lot to a child’s life, but you need to balance it with downtime, time for them to spend with you and feel loved.

Doing scheduled, well-rounded activities well-rounded experiences outside of academics is good for a child, and gives them the opportunity to hone skills and work with other children.

The only place where I say stop is where the child starts to say their performance determines their self-worth or when they make excuses for not wanting to go somewhere or do something, this is a red flag that they are maybe not enjoying it or are feeling the pressure to perform

Above all, make time to spend with your child and worry less about the amount of time your child spends on activities and more about the messages you send about those activities and where the motivation comes from. Look at your child’s body language when picking and dropping off and ensure you are not communicating that performance is the only goal that matters.

That’s the WHAT and WHY. For the HOW, contact DR LAUREN STRETCH on lauren@earlyinspiration.co.za.

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