An Open Letter to Mothers Who Push Their Child Too Hard

Dear Supermom,

We know how stressful it is to raise the perfect child. We know how tiring it is to monitor the progress of your little one and make sure that all their waking hours are accounted for with creative and educational pursuits.

Does your child have school, followed by tuition, followed by a ‘creative’ learning class, followed by some kind of sports activity? Is her day full of events that foster constant learning and growing?

And are you happy with it all?

In today’s time and age, the pressure to raise a well-rounded child is enormous. Children as young as three years of age are expected to start learning the ways of the world by enrolling in foreign language classes (because research says that young minds learn a new language easily), join a sport that will be a part of their life for the next two decades (research says to get them started at a very young age) and be able to recite a rhyme or two and perhaps a multiplication table (research says that mathematical are directly related to intelligence)!

I agree, some children are capable of becoming prodigies and their intelligence should be encouraged and directed towards higher learning abilities. But not every child is born that way. Most children develop at their own pace – through environmental factors and experiences, and even basic biology. Unfortunately, most parents fail to understand this.

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As a mother, you might feel like your child’s success is directly dependent on your abilities as a mother, teacher and friend, and so it is necessary for you to exhaust yourself into pushing your child to do better, do more, and learn more. There are many factors which account for you feeling this way – competition with other children, peer pressure, family expectations and an unspoken fear of missing out on the ‘other’ things that your child can also do.

Is pushing a child to ‘have it all’ really the best way forward? Children can feel overwhelmed, underappreciated and lose self-esteem when they detect a hint of disappointment in the mother’s eyes.

All these factors come together and find an outlet to relieve themselves from your over-worked mom-brain – onto your child. You think it is okay for your child to be utterly exhausted by bedtime after a day filled with educational activities. Children by nature are frivolous--they would rather chase a ball around the park than learn the names of all the colours in a rainbow. It becomes the parent’s job to direct their energies into things that will help them become smarter human beings, but is pushing a child to ‘have it all’ really the best way forward?

Plenty of studies done around the world have proven time and again that the smartest adults had a childhood full of learning experiences – not days where every minute a new expectation is set. Remember, pushing a child too hard can have irreversible damages. Children can feel overwhelmed, underappreciated and lose self-esteem when they detect a hint of disappointment in the mother’s eyes.

What is wrong with an afternoon of doing nothing?

What if your child prefers to take in the colours of nature at his own pace, admire a rainbow and then turn around with curiosity to know the colours that make one, or ask how he can count his toys and sweets? Spontaneous learning takes deeper roots in a child’s mind. And it makes room for the child to grow at a pace that is perfect for her young mind – not the pace at which society thinks she should grow.

More importantly, it makes room for a mother to watch her child grow into the person he really is, without the constant worry of ‘not doing enough’.

If at the end of the day your child looks up at you with love and asks a random question about the world he is living in, then you are a supermom anyway. You don’t need an exhausted kid with straight A's to be one. Your child will thank you a few decades later.

 In good faith,

Your Child’s Teacher