Is pushing the child, the way forward?

  • Henna Rakheja, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 11, 2016 20:41 IST
Experts say that parents in developing countries are more competitive because of limited opportunities. (Istock)

Corporate communication professional Sumedha Chaudhary doesn’t miss any chance to upload pictures of her four-year-old-daughter’s every activity – be it the summer camp or convocation (at kindergarten), on social media. But does that mean she is a pushy parent?

“These days teachers make parents feel that there’s a line which we cannot cross,” says Chaudhary.

The debate on where exactly should the parents limit themselves has been triggered again after a 10-year-old girl Rhea being crowned the brainiest child at Child Genius 2016 in United Kingdom, recently.

Rhea’s mother Sonal interrupting during the competition when Rhea missed a point. (Channel 4)

Even though Rhea correctly spelt heavy words such as eleemosynary,it didn’t stop her mother Sonal from interrupting to ensure that the one mark that Rhea missed, was added to her score.

Read: Overly pushy parents risk damaging kids’ health

“ Parents, especially mothers have so much demand from their children for their performance,” says Dr Priyaranjan Avinash, psychiatrist. He also says that in spite of the psychologists counseling, parents to not take a child’s performance too competitively, there isn’t much improvement. “A term called Helicopter Mom or Helicopter Parenting was coined to define the attitudes of such parents,” he adds.

Parents’ behaviour is categorised, by experts, on the basis of their demands from children and the response they show towards them. It is according to this that four kinds of parental behaviours are studied – Authoritative, Authoritarian, Indulgent and Neglectful. Dr Avinash says, “Parents in India are mostly Authoritative or Authoritarian.”

An obstetrician by profession, Rhea’s mother Sonal has taken a sabbatical from her career to focus on her daughter’s education. But post Rhea’s win, it is Sonal’s behaviour which is being mocked internationally.

Read: Parents need stress management lessons, says Farah Khan

Does this mean that Indian parents are too assertive? Dr Gorav Gupta, psychiatrist, Tulasi Healthcare says, “Parents usually want their kids to be the best performer. And it’s not just in India but almost every developing economy. The pressure is created on the child, to perform, because there aren’t enough opportunities for everyone.”

“This is more in the case of diaspora,” says Professor Binod Khadria, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Having studied such patterns, Khadria adds that the pressure is created by not just parents but also peers and the society at large.

“According to a research by The Pew Research Center (America), Asian parents are more competitive. Hence we send our children for tuitions and coaching. But one can’t be conclusive and blame the parents in today’s age where there is tremendous escalation of marks and grading. Look at the cut offs in colleges. If a child with 95% is unable to get education of his choice, all this is bound to happen.”

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