Today, more and more children are expected to do more and perform better. However, parents need to remember that children still need time to play in order to develop at various levels. The more pressure is placed on children to perform beyond expectations, the less time remains for them to just be a child. It is imperative that children develop optimally with a balanced lifestyle and that they are not placed under unnecessary pressure.
In the 21st century, time has become a valuable commodity. Due to everyone’s fast-paced lifestyles, it has become almost normal not to have enough time in the day. Children are getting more and more homework and some parents are unnecessarily pressuring children to spend more time in front of the books in an effort to ensure that their children perform well above average. And if that is not enough, children are also expected to be involved in a wide variety of extracurricular activities.
Parents should help their children to develop according to their own abilities, and not according to the parents’ abilities or their unreasonably high expectations of their children. Children learn to use their imagination and to think independently through play, while persistent pressure to perform creates the illusion that competition and performance are essential to function in society. This also puts unnecessary strain on children to always meet other people’s expectations.
Children should, however, be taught that participation in activities is important for individual and social development, but they must also learn that winning is not always everything. They don’t have to be the best, as long as they give their personal best and have fun. This sometimes entails being a good loser and seeing life as a continuous growth and learning process.
How can parents help their children cultivate a balanced lifestyle?
- Children need to get enough sleep to function optimally at school and at home. It’s important for children to start settling down at least one hour before bedtime.
- Parents should teach children healthy eating habits that will promote their health and wellbeing.
- Cultivate responsibility early on: Teach children how to do their own homework, but still give appropriate guidance when necessary.
- Help your child plan his/her day.
- Motivate children to participate in physical activities or to play outside instead of playing with their cellphones or sitting in front of the TV all day.
- Cancel some of your child’s extracurricular activities if your child is always tired, irritable and teary – as these are often signs of burnout.
- Don’t expect your child to make your lost dreams come true.
As a parent you want to give your child the best. Isn’t it just to enjoy their childhood for as long as possible? Or to develop their own potential and maintain a good balance in life? Primary education should therefore cultivate happy children who are willing to develop themselves continuously through a balanced lifestyle.
Written by Ilse Stickling – Subject Specialist: History at Impaq