I yesterday told you why I believe filling the schedules of our children until there is no free minute anymore is not a good idea. Apart from robbing them of the ability to occupy themselves, we place the seeds for todays’ huge problems in our society: depression, burn-out and other psychological problems. These problems, formerly only known to people in their forties, are now a regular occurrence among young people in schools all over the world.
Let’s go back to the activities that parents want their children to participate in. There are many, some more educational and some less. Some are supposed to stimulate the child’s intellect, others are for developing their musical skills, again others should just let them move and exercise and events like playdates shall help them create social skills. Everything has a purpose.
Yes, there is the thought behind all of these that the child should learn something. There is an expectation: children should perform well during these activities! If they act in the way they are expected to, they get praised for it as well. Even in social activities, there is the watching eye of a supervisor, judging on the effectiveness of what was happening. This creates pressure.
Now away from the ‘leisure activities’, let’s talk about what happens at school: it is hard to believe how much pressure already our young ones have to bear! They have lots to learn, they are continuously shown the consequences if they don’t and they are made afraid of the future.
Teachers, parents, the school and even students among each other again and again remind each other that life is not fun. That learning is for a bigger purpose: so that they don’t sit on the road after their school unemployed and without money. Because money is what it is about. For that you have to have a good job, for that you have to pass the exams with good marks, for that you need to learn more and more and more! Don’t have fun, learning is not for fun! Make a mistake and you are punished! Compete with those around you! Are they better than you? Try harder! Are they worse than you? Don’t let them ever catch up!
In some schools and for some kids, it is more obvious, while it is more subtle pressure for others. In whichever way, you can imagine the psychological consequences. There is no outlet, no time to get rid of this pressure. And there is no respect for the fact that we all are different and cannot all be the elite. That we cannot all be doctors and engineers.
That’s why children have learning disorders, mental breakdowns and burn-out. Because they are never enough how they are. Because their future looks horrible, no matter how much effort they do!
We have to change this.
Let our children learn with more freedom, give them the chance to enjoy and have fun. Be positive and teach them positive thinking as well!