In times when constant cutthroat competition marks almost every arena in life, being surrounded by ambitious or naturally gifted people can put tremendous pressure on a comparatively ‘average’ individual. These circumstances stem right from childhood, when parents wonder why their child isn’t ‘topping’ academics, sports and extra-curricular activities. Baffled, they seek the help of medical experts in helping their children attain more intelligence and boost their memory skills and retention power.
In a battle between ‘tiger mothers and fathers’ and parents who want to let their children be, who wins? To find out, HT City talks to child experts to ascertain if every child needs to be intelligent to do well in life.
Raashi Jain, a Chandigarh-based child psychologist says she has come across various workshops that promise to raise a child’s intelligence, comprising mental development programmes and healthy eating habits.
“It’s a universal fact that when we stress on a particular subject, it itself turns into a cause of stress. If these workshops on raising intelligent children are creating awareness, they are also the very reason for half-baked and incomplete knowledge that is not helping either parents or their children,” she says.
Deepak Behl, director of Dynamic SIGFA Education and Healing Centre, Sector 20, believes that the age of competition has grown highly disproportional. “I pity today’s parents. They are all in a rat race, without understanding the harmful effects of pressuring children with the burden of studies. This results in the kids developing aggressive minds which can be seen in them at a very early stage,” he says. Behl practises a discipline called ‘Psycho Neurobics’, which he describes as a science of both the ‘psyche’ and ‘neurons’. “Most ailments are psychosomatic (involving the mind and the body) and thus curable. We only need to take care of our eating habits and thinking pattern,” he advises.
Behl adds, “We are copying western styles and the west is trying to understand our pattern of studies. The average height of children in India has decreased and they also show signs of physical weakness. They reach puberty at an early age, which is a bad sign as well.”
In such a scenario, Raashi says parents should try to understand their children well. “Following others won’t help; it will rather lead to more pressure. In fact, even pressure is a subjective term. The parents’ worry about their children should be balanced,” she says, adding, “Also, parents often get their children admitted in high-profile schools because of the consciousness of their social status. But before doing that, they should consider providing a healthy environment at home. Else, the child won’t be able to cope with the demands of the school and there would begin a blame game,” she says.
BK Chandra Shekhar, a spiritual healer and programme director (MDPN and Psycho Neurobics) at Physical Education and Sports University, Chennai, believes in focussing on the Emotional Quotient (EQ) of a child.
“I don’t deny that today’s generation is facing stiff competition. Children come to me saying they feel burdened and stressed out; and above all, they want a quick fix for everything. In a month, more than 100 parents approach me with the issue of raising their child intelligently and boosting their IQ. But my only advice to them is that instead of competing against each other, they need to meditate and live happily.” Shekhar says competition teaches youngsters to be jealous and leads to lack of confidence.
“So, it’s very important to teach children to be disciplined and have a healthy spirit of competition. In this, meditation is helpful.”
Aman Patwalia, director of city-based Tiny Feet Giant Leaps, regularly hold various fun-filled activities for children. Says the mother of two, “As director at Tiny Feet, I observed that present-age mothers put their best foot forward in raising intelligent children by reading to them and helping them gain exposure by making them participate in various co-curricular activities. However, I also found that there is a general lack of awareness about areas such as health and nutrition.”
Aman acknowledges that she constantly struggles to feed her children healthy food and believes that food plays an essential part in the right development of a child. Therefore, she thinks seeking help from nutritionists is justified, it being an age of super-specialty. “If a child falls ill, there is a child specialist to go to who further refers the child to an endocrinologist or an orthodontist. Similarly, childcare nutritionists are experts who help mothers like me lay a healthy foundation for the children through proper dietary guidance.”
Confirms Aditi A Mehrotra, a Delhi-based diet consultant and nutrition and health educator. “A child’s brain is like a sponge that absorbs new information throughout early childhood. There is perhaps no aspect of child development that is as miraculous and transformative as the development of a child’s brain. This is dependent on a large extent on what they are fed in their developing years.” In her workshops, Aditi encourages parents to seek nutritional guidance for a healthy and bright future of their children.
Without doubt, a child brought up in a holistic environment will learn to smile even in adversity.