Stress and Pressure of Modern Childhood

Posted by Lori Goldman on Wednesday, December 19, 2012 Under: Parenting
In their book, Einstein Never Used Flash Cards, Drs Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, experts in child development, discuss childhood stress in our society and how children are pressured to 'learn' and prohibited from playing.  This, of course, leads to issues of anxiety and distress when goals are not met to others' satisfaction and valuable and critical lessons learned through play are skipped.

Everyone wants his or her child to be an academic success, ahead of all other children and received into the top universities. However, the "pressure to boost children's brainpower is harmful because it threatens to erode aspects of childhood that are crucial to social, emotional and cognitive development." They miss learning how to interact with others and solve arguments and how to handle strong feelings, and they miss parts of learning that can integrate other facts and knowledge they encounter.

Not assisting kids in planning their activities and schedules and not giving them free play time to explore takes away their ability to create for themselves. "By making children dependent on others to schedule and entertain them, we deprive them of the pleasures of creating their own games and the sense of mastery and independence they will need to enjoy running their own lives." They don't have the skills to organize their time and work and actually can be less effective learners when they are so dependent.

When children have "responsive, nurturing relationships with parents and caregivers", they have a better chance of "healthy intellectual and emotional development". A US government report states that hanging out with children, washing dishes together, hiking, etc, gives the adults a chance to share knowledge of the world and teach children about themselves.  This helps children deal with events of the day or problems or worries they might be having, giving them skills they cannot learn from books or 'flash cards'.  Even reducing stress levels.

Educators support the value of play and social relationships.  Companies and private schools make a great deal of money catering to the fears that parents have of their children being left behind.  Don't get trapped by the perceived 'need' to get ahead academically.  Enjoy learning along with your children and watching them develop with the natural curiosity and enthusiasm they have to explore and change their world. 

It is a magical time that cannot be retrieved.

In : Parenting 

Tags: stress  parenting 

About Me

Lori in I got my Bachelor of Education degree in the USA but was born and raised in Canada. Working in Asia and with immigrant adults and children for 26 years has given me insights into the difficulties they face in a new country and school system. I like to help adults adjust to and explore the rich and diverse opportunities in Canada while also supporting them in their challenge of parenting in a new culture. I love to help children learn English, develop skills, and gain confidence to succeed in school and life.


“Don't aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it” ― Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning A lack of planning on your part does not constitute and emergency on my part. "Most people don't plan to fail; they fail to plan." ~~John L. Beckley

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