Sometimes, parents, in their eagerness to help their child to become an all-rounder commit mistakes that have a long-lasting impact on him. Read on to know about the common mistakes parents make.
By Sarika Chuni
Former US president, Dwight D Eisenhower said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” The same holds true for learning. Why would someone want to participate in an activity that has been made tiresome and may have negative consequences? But parents who restrict their child’s play time and force him to sit and study, or those who enrol their child in too many activities so that he becomes an ‘all-rounder’ end up doing exactly the opposite of what Eisenhower suggested.
In their enthusiasm to get their child to succeed in academics or school, parents often make mistakes that are actually detrimental to a child’s learning. Instead of making an activity engaging, they end up turning it into a tedious chore. Real learning, not rote learning, as any educator worth their salt would tell you, can never happen under coercion.
Here are the top ten mistakes parents make that negatively impact their children:
a. Being a ‘helicopter’ parent or hyper parenting: Some parents are so terrified of their child failing, that they will do anything to prevent the child from experiencing hardships or pain. This is also commonly called ‘hyper parenting’. It is important for such parents to know that independence and autonomy is a vital skill for a child’s learning. No man ever learned anything without making mistakes. Let children take risks and learn from the consequences. Of course, this does not imply that parents leave their children unsupervised. It means that children need their own space to grow. Instead of saying “no” to a child when he wants to climb a tree, boost the child’s confidence by saying, “Try climbing a few steps and I’m here to hold you.”
b. Focussing too much on academics: One of the most famous quotes by Einstein is -“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Grades and scores as a measure of success were a part of an old and orthodox schooling system. This is not true, today. The Indian government has now passed directives to educational institutes to evaluate a child based on her academic and non-academic performance. However, some parents still force their child to excel in academics, ignoring and stifling other potential talents in the child. Academics are not completely unimportant, but it is important to ensure that your child’s schedule is a mix between academics and other activities like sports, art, community service, leadership activities, or even a part-time job.
a. Failure to acknowledge your child’s progress: Regardless of what you might feel, your children care about what you think. You should make your child aware of your appreciation for the hard work he puts in. To motivate him in the long run, avoid focussing on his abilities and intelligence; instead, focus on his efforts.
b. Comparing your children to others: This is one of the worst mistakes a parent can make, as it damages your child’s self-esteem. Whether you compare her to a sibling or a neighbour or even yourself, when you were her age, such statements lead her to question her self-worth and restrict her from developing a sense of individuality. No two people are alike and comparisons never yield positive results.
Getting a child to focus on a task is tricky. You don’t want your child focussed too much on one thing at the expense of others, nor do you want his lack of focus make him a jack of all but master of none.
a. Focussing too much on achievement and not on contribution: Some parents will push their child to excel in academics instead of focussing on acquiring skills and knowledge that will hold them in good stead later in life. This leads to children who become obsessed with achievement and ignore their personal development as well-rounded individuals.
b. Allowing a child to flit from one activity to another: Some parents allow their children to give up on a particular activity and move on to a new one without ever talking to them or finding out the reasons for quitting. This leads to children who never learn the value of diligence and persistence.
a. Trying to find the best brand of school for the child: All parents want their child to go to the best school. But, more often than not, we confuse what is best as a brand with what is best for our child. The best school for a child is the place that is the right fit for him, and where he feels excited and happy to learn. All parents should keep this in mind when looking for a school and they will never have to worry about their child’s school performance.
b. Lack of involvement in the child’s school or PTA: It is important for a parent to be involved with their child’s progress at school. All good schools have an active engagement programme, where parents are invited for regular PTA meetings and informal interaction sessions. A child who senses that her parents are not as involved in her school programmes as other parents, will also develop the same attitude toward activities initiated by the school.
a. Introducing a child to technology at a young age: The sooner in life your child gets unrestricted access to technology the easier it is for him to fall into patterns that lead to addiction. Once he gets accustomed to the ‘high’ of playing with video games constantly, he will find any other form of recreation boring. This can have disastrous consequences for him.
b. Using technology as a reward: Though this might seem harmless to most parents, using technology as a reward can often backfire. It is an easier choice to make, compared to an ice cream date, but it has far more negative long-term consequences. A chance to play on the mobile or tablet after completing homework, reinforces the notion that reading and learning are necessary evils rather than rewards by themselves.
Once, a mother, whose son had cleared a very tough examination while he was still in school, was asked how she had got her child to study each day. She said it was quite simple. She never had to ask him or badger him to get up and study. In the evening, after he came back home from playing and it was time for him to study, she switched off the television, picked up a book and started reading. He knew that it was time for him to get up and study as well. This is a great example of how a simple action can inculcate habits in your child that help him succeed in life.
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