Pushing Your Kid’s Limits

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We all want the best for our kids. We want them to have it all but do we put too much pressure on our children these days? Is our need to have successful children, to have kids that are the best on the field, best in the class, best on the stage creating unrealistic expectations for them and for ourselves? These days there is a lot of pressure on our children to be the best at everything. That is a lot to live up to. Are we putting too much pressure on our kids?

Carrie Burrows is a fitness and nutrition expert and owns her own company, Georgetown Fitness Bootcamp, and she is also a mom to three kids. She believes there has to be more of a balance for a lot of parents these days. “Parents today are banking that their child will become a professional athlete.” She thinks some parents are taking it to the extreme, especially with some kids on the ice for 6 hours, and then off to a trainer for another hour and then back on the ice for more conditioning. “ I know some will argue it is necessary so their child will be competitive”, says Burrows, but too much pressure can burn kids out, and even cause some to  suffer physically. “ Lack of sleep, poor concentration, and poor nutrition will lead to injuries. Not only does their performance suffer in the game but other aspects of their life suffers as well, like school.”

Jennifer Hamilton, a Nurse Researcher, is also mom to a 4 and a half year old boy and she agrees balance is the key. She says she wasn’t pushed or pressured to do any sports or activities when she was a kid. If she didn’t want to take gymnastics then she didn’t have to do it and she thinks that has a lot to do with why she was the only one of her siblings who finished post secondary education. There wasn’t enough pressure in her family, they weren’t expected or pushed in any way. It is a fine line.

Hamilton believes parents need to find a happy medium. “Expose your kids to things rather than forcing the into them. If at first you don’t succeed, try and then try again but don’t be upset if your son hates soccer or your daughter doesn’t go ballistic over a pink tutu.” She wants the best for her son but doesn’t want to push too hard. It is important to support children but Hamilton believes “some parents want for their children what they themselves never had and their own insecurities shine through in what they expect for their children.” She says it is important for kids to find what they are good at, not what their parents want them to be good at.

Carrie Burrows believes the best thing a parent can do is support and listen to your children. “Be a parent not their agent.” More isn’t always better and it is important to accept children as they are.

And that doesn’t just apply to sport. These ideas apply to music, dance and education.  It is essential to let children move at their own pace. There is no doubt sometimes children need encouragement, sometimes a little more than at other times. It can be a difficult thing for a parent to learn to take a step back and let their children learn, make mistakes and grown all on their own. We want our kids to find their own passions in life. Laurel Crossley-Byers (@Optimom), life coach and founder of Opti-Mom.ca has some great tips to help parents create a healthy and balanced house

1. Ask yourself how you enjoy being micromanaged at work for example.  Most of us constantly complain about those micromanaging individuals, it is no different with children.  The more you interfere, the more they will rebel (of course there are always exceptions to the rules) as older children.  Most kids have a great sense of right and wrong and letting them be wrong and experience the resulting consequences is one of the best life lessons you can give them.  Achievement through supporting and loving parents serves children much better later in life.  If you push and demand as a parent, expect similar behaviour from your children!

2. Observe and listen to what your children are telling you (through verbal and non-verbal cues); they know themselves better than you.  Parenting is not about control, parenting is about teaching independence and accountability so children can make GREAT decisions on their own. Work together with your children to establish what they’d like to do or not do  and remember balance of mind, body and spirit when you are helping them.

As adults we are over programmed and over stimulated and we often expect our children to keep up the same pace as us.  Balanced living is about supporting mind, body, and spiritual development in each of us AND it starts at the top (i.e. the parents).  Life is not about either or, life is about living in the present and enjoying those moments as a family unit.  Life is not about the performance, life is about how you support the families overall health and well-being and taking time to enjoy one another.

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