The rush towards academic achievement and success in recent years is taking a heavy toll on young children. Thousands of students are experiencing unacceptably high levels of anxiety disorders, depression, substance abuse, poor physical health and disengagement from learning Teen suicides are on the up around the world.
According to Challenge Success, an organization with roots in the Stanford University School of Education, educators, mental health professionals, and business leaders agree that the pursuit of a narrow vision of success often leaves young people lacking the skills most needed to thrive in a rapidly changing world – adaptability, interpersonal and collaborative skills, and the ingenuity and creativity to solve complex problems
Clearly theres a need to redefine success to include character building, resilience, creativity and personal expression, connection to family, friends and community, and enthusiasm in addition to achievement – academic or sporting.
As parents, we need to be careful about messages we might be communicating to children about the relative importance of grades and effort. By keeping the focus on effort and genuine learning, we can help reduce the levels of stress and anxiety surrounding school grades and test scores.
Challenge Success offers a useful set of guidelines for parents. Here are some of them.
Define success on your terms:
Take time to reflect upon the qualities you hope your children will have when they leave the nest. How you define success us analogous to your mission statement as a parent. Without addressing this explicitly default to the prevailing, narrow notion of success. Resist parent peer pressure and trust your intuition.
Maintain play time, down time, and family time. Avoid over-scheduling:
Young children need time for their most important job: unstructured play. Kids of all ages need restorative time to reflect and dream. And families need time together: at meals, on weekends, and during vacations to connect and form lasting bonds.
Love your children unconditionally
The basis for healthy emotional development is a sense of being lovable. Make sure your children know that they are loved for who they are, not only for how well they perform. Value the uniqueness of each child.
Discipline and set limits
There are two sides to parenting: warmth and discipline. Warmth is easier, but discipline is equally important. Children feel secure and cared for when their parents are willing to set limits. This is how children learn skills like self control and frustration tolerance. Dont worry about childrens temporary anger or indignation when you set limits. It will pass.
Ease performance pressure
For many young people, the questions parents ask most often are: How did you do in the test? Have you done your homework?” The subtle message to kids is that performance and results matter most. Instead, emphasize the primacy of effort, hard work, resilience, and intellectual curiosity by asking open-ended, non-judgmental questions such as, How did the day go?”
Debunk college myths
Make sure your children understand that there are many different paths to success after high school. There are many excellent colleges, all with different attributes and personalities; none right for everyone. Help your child find the right fit
Courtesy: Shuchi Grover