The Ideal Child, An Illusion
Today, children are embedded in a culture that is driven by status, performance, and appearance. As we all know, our parents always want and work towards our best, to ensure a bright and successful future for us. With many of them harboring dreams for highest grades, acceptance in a top college, lucrative job placement within today’s global and competitive market. To achieve and meet these expectations, though, children must perform well academically. With parents often putting immense pressure on the child through cram schools and tuitions, no matter the cost. Though parents believe that they are being supportive by setting such expectations, they fail to recognize the backlash felt by the child with intense pressure leading to deterioration of mental and emotional health. Parents are well-intentioned regarding their child’s success, however, it is often driven by the societal norm for their child to be an ideal child.
According to Professor Suniya Luthar “When parents emphasize children’s achievement much more than their compassion and decency during the formative years, they are sowing the seeds of stress and poorer well-being, seen as early as sixth grade”(2016).
Agreed, that proper education and academic success is a necessary part of a child’s life. However, it is not the only aspect that shapes a child’s future. Disregarding the nationality or culture, the majority of the parents often start to shape their child’s future at a very young age with the thought that an early start will be beneficial. Although, researches conducted over the past few years do not show that encouraging achieving is not beneficial. It does correlate with signs of deterioration of personal growth and interpersonal skills.
From a very young age they are admitted into schools, then after school classes or cram schools, an excessive amount of homework, tuitions, and classes to learn instrument or sports. As they age the pressure on the child to be an ideal child with traits such as academics, family oriented, athletic and social often causes decreased satisfaction with life and a high level of depression.
Unfortunately, due to the immense pressure that the children are put under they often collapse often leading to students with health issues such as sleep deprivation, eating disorders, cheating, loss of interest in hobbies and fear of failure. Many European and Asian countries are known to have to high suicide rates among the high school and university students due to the amount of stress (Britannica, 2017). From a young age, the child is made to believe that success is based on perfection in one’s work and a slight error leaves them feeling not good enough.
Some parent often recognizes the issue and emphasize academic success as relative to the individual’s internal standards such as enjoyment, attainment of personal goals, curiosity and being inquisitive. Rather than wanting them to be an ideal child with achievement in external standards, some parents often want their children to be just a child and maintain a balance between external and internal standards to achieve success. This will alleviate the feeling of immense pressure that often children feel but never communicate due to the fear of anger and criticism
Thus, the notion that a successful future is defined by highest grades and top college acceptances can lead to happiness long term is an illusion similar to an ideal child. An ideal child is a utopian characterization and thus an illusion. There is no child who is perfect, and if he or she is they are based on our terms as to what an ideal child should be like. Rather than pushing and putting immense pressure on a child to be an illusion, we should recognize his or her potential and encourage them to be successful in their external and internal standards and maintain a balance.
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