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Opinion: No parent is perfect, so it is wrong to expect perfection from your child 

Did you watch the video shared by Virat Kohli where a child is being ‘forced’ to learn? Here’s expert opinion on how parents and children, both, can handle pressure.

more lifestyle Updated: Aug 25, 2017 17:16 IST
Dr Anupam Sibal
Dr Anupam Sibal
Hindustan Times
Peer pressure,Parental pressure,Relationships
The video has been doing the rounds of the internet.

In today’s world many of us expect everything to be perfect — perfect spouse, perfect job, perfect home and of course, perfect kids. In this quest for perfection, we don’t realise what we can do to relationships. Trying to raise perfect kids can take a toll. Children are losing on being children. Many of you would have seen a video doing the rounds of the Internet, which shows a petrified child trying to express her inability to handle pressure. Pressure in children? Parents will be surprised to learn that we paediatricians are increasingly seeing children unable to cope with the pressure cooker like environment they find themselves in.

THE KINDS OF PRESSURE

In my book, Is Your Child Ready To Face The World, I have written about young children I have seen complaining of pressure. And, when I say young, I mean as young as five years old. The pressures could be many, and may vary from one family to another. The pressure to perform takes the primary spot. This would include the focus on behaviour — the pressure to be a ‘good girl’ or ‘bad boy’ at all times. Then, there’s the school stress — the pressure to ace academics. Beyond the books, many also face the pressure of excelling in extra-curricular like music, dance and debating. It’s not only about just participating or learning, but it is the pressure to be on top that gets to children. Quite often the pressure is because parents want their child to live their unfulfilled dreams. Then their is constant pressure of comparison - with siblings, cousins, classmates and of course neighbours.

THE MANIFESTATIONS OF PRESSURE

Symptoms vary and include functional abdominal pain, vomiting, headache, lethargy and vague body aches. Some children can’t sleep, some become irritable, some just feel low and get in to a shell.

HANDLING PRESSURE

When talking to parents about pressure, I often quote Sadhu Gnanamunidas, a senior temple official of Akshardham temple. When asked by the President of a country on how to handle the pressure of running a country, Sadhu Gnanamunidas said: “When you carry a pitcher of water on your head, you feel a lot of pressure because you believe you are carrying the load. In contrast, when you go diving, you do not feel the pressure of gallons of water above your head. This is because you do not believe you are carrying the load. So, Mr President, stop thinking that you are carrying the load, and the pressure will go away.”

Parents first need to learn how to cope with pressure themselves. Unless they can do that, they will pass on pressure to their kids. Secondly, parents need to realise that putting pressure on children to excel robs them off their childhood. Thirdly, children need to live their own dreams and not the dreams of their parents. Fourthly, as no parent is perfect, isn’t it unrealistic to expect our children to be perfect. When the perfection bug bites parents and they get the urge to reprimand their child, they should remember what Mahatama Gandhi had said: “Not being faultless myself I won’t presume to probe into the fault of others.”
Let children be children. Don’t we as parents owe that to them?

Dr Anupam Sibal is an author, child specialist and the Group Medical Director of the Apollo Hospitals Group

This is the video:

First Published: Aug 25, 2017 17:15 IST