The first three years… Perhaps the most important years in a child’s life, the best time for learning and development. Think back: What did you do when you were three years old? Playing with Barbies? Watching Treehouse? Or chasing tiny squirrels in your backyard? I may not know your childhood, but I certainly do remember that the first three years of my life was great until I was compelled to play the piano. Practice was mandatory every single day, no matter how hard it was. While other children are skipping around in the park full of joy, I had to sit in my piano bench and hammer lifelessly on those keys. What are the consequences of forced learning? Will these children grow up to be rebellious because of all the control in their lives as a child? In our world today, children of all ages are experiencing extreme stress due to their overbooked schedules rooted in parental anxiety. Children of our generation grow up to become robotic, emotionless workaholics who have trouble comprehending the word “fun”. Growing up, I was the busiest in my class, I was that kid who couldn’t hang out with their friends after school, and the one who couldn’t go chase after the ice cream truck to buy a popsicle because of my regular daily after school activities. Every day, I remember getting picked up from school and driving directly past the other kids who happily skipped home with their ice cream while I had to prepare for my next class. Monday: Art class and swimming, Tuesday: Taekwondo class, Wednesday: Math tutor, Thursday: Piano class and English class, Friday: Cello class and Math tutor, Saturday: Practice, Sunday: Orchestra rehearsal. These classes come one right after the next, the eternal loop never ends and suffocated my childhood dreams.
Parents have lived on the guilt of sending their kids to every possible activity there is in the world, fearing that their child is going to be the only one who can’t do a handstand, play the Four Seasons on the violin, or the one who can’t fingerpaint a perfect turkey for thanksgiving. We all know that our society and populations are growing, have higher standards, lower success rates, and more unemployed. What will happen to my child if they can’t find the perfect job? What if my child gets denied because they can’t do EVERYTHING? In retrospect, I don’t really remember much of my childhood, only the hours of piano playing every single day and my strained eyes and cramped fingers. Because of those many stressful weeks for the past 13 years, I cannot handle stress. When stress hits me, I become very anxious and somehow do not know how to control it. Children who are always being controlled could end up developing a fear of their own parents, and underdeveloped social skills. In the future, these kids will grow up to become adults who cannot control their emotions because they had no childhood. You don’t want your child to regret their whole life after not being able to find those childhood memories, do you?
With tremendous amounts of pressure piling up each day, children of all ages are (soon-to-be) victims of depression, anxiety and many stress related disorders. Parents believe that dangerous amounts of extracurricular activities can help a child manage their stress when really, it just stresses them out even more. Stress, pressure, forced; these words are often taken lightly when in reality, they can be a huge negative impact in someone’s life. Parents are often the root of these bottled up emotions and this could lead to very severe illnesses. Teens are forced to take a million classes both in school and out. 4 courses per semester, 8 per year, and if that’s not good enough, students also take summer school so that they can take more courses. Maybe throw in some sports into the mix during and after school i.e. swimming, basketball, volleyball, badminton. Why would parents even bother to register for a basketball club 5 year in advance? Or go out of their way to sign up for a daycare when their child hasn’t even been born yet? All of these can greatly affect a child’s mindset and could result them to question their life choices.
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