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Being average is not a curse

It’s important that parents do not force their wishes on their children

education Updated: May 29, 2012 12:52 IST
Samir Parikh

We have our images of an ideal life. And with years of experience to back us, we often get tempted to influence the lives of our children because we know better. But what parents sometimes forget is that just as we have our dreams and aspirations, so do our children. Unfortunately, these don’t always match. So, what to do? Let’s see

1 Expectations are natural: As parents, you are bound to invest a lot of your time and energy in your children. You always try your level best to provide them with the best the world has to offer. And because of this, it is natural for parents to have expectations from your children.

2 Forcing your wishes on children: Unfortunately, the expectations parents have from their children and those that children have from themselves often vary considerably. Every child has their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses. In such a scenario, forcing your wishes over that of the child would lead to distress, and hamper performance. So, be careful.

3 Children tend to drop out of activities: While you might be able to force a child to take up music lessons or tennis coaching, sustaining the activity over time and excelling in it is still entirely in the control of the child.

4 Increased frustration and aggression in children: Parents tend to set very high targets for their children. Living up to these standards, however, can never be easy. Children who experience excessive parental pressure experience emotional distress, struggle with developing self-esteem and also begin to display problem behaviour.

5 Decline in overall academic performance: A child may be just average at studies. His interest may lie in computers, literature or sport. But if one fails to strike a balance and disregard these interests of the child, his/her academic performance can deteriorate further.

6 Effect on the parent-child bond: When the pressure to excel from the parents becomes excessive, it pervades every aspect of the parent-child relationship. Children then tend to avoid their parents and try to hide their hardships and shortcomings from them.

7 Encourage the interests of the child: Every child has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. Rather than focusing on the short-comings of your child, help him identify his strengths and encourage your child to pursue his own dreams.

8 Guide the child but respect aptitude and interests: Children are often ignorant about future possibilities and consequences. It’s, therefore, a good idea for parents to expose their children to greater opportunities and provide their own perspective. That said, the aptitudes and interests of the child must be not be neglected.

9 Children succeed when they enjoy: Children don’t take up activities in order to be successful or famous in the future. Instead, they persist with activities they enjoy doing in the here and now. Your child will never excel in any activity until they themselves are not internally motivated to do so. At the same time, if your child does enjoy what he’s doing, there’s little that can stop him from finding his success.

As a parent, it’s important to remember that an award or external recognition does not determine your worth or that of your child. Being average is not a curse. What matters is how healthy and happy your child is. Appreciate your child for who he is. It’s time to let go of your own ambitions and let your kids just be kids for a little while longer.

The author is director, Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Healthcare