Am I pushing my child too far?

Don’t we all hear it all the time? ‘Our generation of children lead too stressful lives.’

In school, children are perceived to be studying too many subjects, having too much homework and taking too many tests. After school and on weekends, children are perceived to be engaged in doing too many extracurricular activities from academic extracurricular activities such as tuition and non-academic extracurricular activities such as sports or music.

Is that really true that our generations of kids are being swamped with too much extra curricular activities? Are we really going too far?

The key question we ought to ask here is what is too far or too much? Perhaps one way to judge is to observe your child’s response to your expectations. Does your child dread going to any of those activities that you sign them up for? Do you have to nag, threaten, beg or blackmail your child to go? Do they demonstrate irritable behavior? If yes, chances are they are not enjoying it.

But does that mean that you just let your child do what he wants to do and be what he wants to be? Two parents have very different views on this topic.

Sharon Lee, 35, mother of 2 boys, is a firm believer of extracurricular activities. She hires personal tutors for English, Maths and Science for both her children on weekdays and signs them up for swimming, soccer and golf on weekends. When asked if she feels that she is pushing her children too much, she said:

‘Life IS hard as adults.  Most middle-income workers like me work for many donkey years and have long hard days. I would like to train my children to be ready for the harsh world out there – to be able to withstand long days and to be physically and mentally fit and challenged starting from a young age. A child who sits in front of the TV or Ipad after school or on weekdays gain absolutely nothing. Weight maybe. Playing sports such as soccer can help burn my boys energy and keep fit.’

Patrick Kwek, 38 father of 3, think otherwise. He does not hire any tutors for his children nor sign them up for any extracurricular activities. He believes that his children should have a happy carefree childhood. Patrick’s father used to be very strict on him when he was a kid and although he did very well in his studies when he was younger, he remembered how unhappy he was as a child.

‘I did not have a childhood. My father made me study a lot. He would cane me if I produced bad results in school. I do not want to bring up my children in the same way that I was brought up. It goes against the law of nature for young children to be subjected to huge amounts of pressure. Let kids be kids. Good exam results does not guarantee future success anyway.’

Ultimately, what is too much or what is too little is all relative. Nevertheless, it has been statistically proven that children who engage in more physical activities, such as sports, achieve higher academic results and have a positive effect on attainment.  They will less likely turn to drugs, smoking or alcohol when they become teenagers and eventually adults. There might be lots of positives in some of these extracurricular activities but the most important question is how much is too much? Let us hear your comments.