Raising Kids is not a Competition

Raising Kids is not a Competition

Raising Kids is not a Competition

Written by a Pre-School Teacher – It says it all!

I was on a parenting bulletin board recently and read a post by a mother who was worried that her 4 1/2 year old did not know enough. “What should a 4 year old know?” she asked.

Most of the answers left me not only saddened but pretty soundly annoyed. One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only three. A few posted URL’s to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.

It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn’t. We are such a competitive culture that even our pre-schoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn’t be a race.

So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know:

She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.

He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.

She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.

He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.

She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that– way more worthy.

But more important, here’s what parents need to know:

That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.

That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.

That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children “advantages” that we’re giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.

That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children’s toys and they wouldn’t be missed, but some things are important– building toys like Lego and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too– to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it’s absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.

That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That’s not okay! Our children don’t need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US. They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they’re a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them.

Hat tip to M.R.O. for sharing this.

Via Caroline Holley. “…it was in a friend’s child’s school’s e-newsletter…”


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28 Responses to Raising Kids is not a Competition

  1. Paulie del Prado says:

    I super love this articles…I used to be giving so much pressure to my kiddo while he’s growing up because of seeing some potentials in him.Yet eventually I have learned many things on how how to raise him well. I am a librarian by profession and I clearly found out that it has a great purpose, that is bringing my child into reading and exploring so many things. And of course me and my husband being with him all the time, supporting, loving and caring for him made him so strong. It made him grow as an achiever not only in terms of academics but also in his dealings with others.

    • Spud 'n Squishy Baby Shop says:

      Thanks for taking time to say so. Indeed, our children “deserve to know that they’re a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them.”

  2. Rhea says:

    Thank you very much for this article. As a working mother of 2 children, I try my best to be hands- on with them even if I don’t have enough energy at the end of each day. This article made me realize that playing with them is still the best way of teaching them about things. Kudos!!

    • Spud 'n Squishy Baby Shop says:

      Thanks for your feedback. We came across it online and wanted to pass it on to other parents. Thanks to whoever the original author is, and to all those who have shared it along the way.

  3. Teacher Kath says:

    I am an Occupational Therapist. And I hear parents complain and worry a lot about their kid’s delays or “deficits” that they end up having therapy sessions an hour everyday to address these issues. I would normally tell parents that each child is different, you can’t compare them even with siblings. Or I’d tell them to “wait it out” when they become too impatient to hear their child talk at 1.5 years old.

    Reading this article gives me a whole lot of ideas on how to address parents’ concerns other than my default answers. =)

    • Spud 'n Squishy Baby Shop says:

      I’m glad. Life on the Internet is but a quest for content/material. The trick is filtering the garbage. Happy to hear that this info is useful.

  4. Thanks for sharing this. I am full time Mom who gave up a promising career to devote my time raising my two wonderful kids. I have always believed that pressure should never be included in my children’s vocabulary. I grew up with people expecting too much from me and I wanted my children to be spared from this and to just enjoy their childhood. Now, they are sweet, smart, gentle and happy kids. Even if my eldest is now 9 years old, we still enjoy our preschool activities like arts and crafts, pretend play and reading. Nothing beats old school play :)

    • Spud 'n Squishy Baby Shop says:

      Full time parenthood is not something that anyone/everyone can take up. It is never something that we are taught in school. The only way to truly understand parents is to be one. Good on you and lucky for your kids.

  5. bequi30 says:

    im guilty. i got a 4yr old daughter, since everyone is saying shes smart, lovely, witty etc, i make sure she exceeds the expectations. she just recently got accelerated to grade 1, but after reading this, got a guilty feeling on putting too much pressure on my baby at an early age.. she would sometimes complain that i dont love her coz im pushing her to do something even shes already tired.

    • Spud 'n Squishy Baby Shop says:

      There is no parent who has never made a mistake with their kids. It’s all trial and error and each child requires a different approach, according to his/her personality. I know I may have been too hard on our kids, too, sometimes. In the end, all we want is to bring out the best in our kids. Articles like this one help us have more insight into the guessing game that is parenthood.

  6. Joy says:

    I’m homeschooling my kindergarten and one of the reasons I do so is because I don’t want her to start in the “kiddy rat race.” I used to be a teacher for primary level kids and I don’t want my child to be exposed to the unnecessary pressure inherent in the education system. I want my children to enjoy learning sans the (grading) system that kills natural curiosity and creativity. As an educator, I believe that not all kids have the same type of intelligence. It’s like judging a fish as “stupid” because it cannot climb a tree like the monkey. :-/

    Thank you very much for this article!

    • Spud 'n Squishy Baby Shop says:

      Your child is lucky to have a hands-on educator for a parent, aware of the multiple kinds of intelligence. Thank you for your feedback. Gems like this must be shared.

    • Spud 'n Squishy Baby Shop says:

      LOL. Yes, I remember coming across the CTFD method on the Internet some time ago. Love it! Thanks for the reminder. It will help keep us parents sane. :)

  7. Yvette Nazareno says:

    I have a 15-month old daughter who learned to walk without me telling her how. When she was younger, I was so worried she wouldn’t walk when the book said she should. I have since then learned to relax, and am enjoying days at her pace.

  8. bzmumz says:

    I like this article. I wish though society agrees on this. I feel even schools put these pressures on parents, preschools are abounding everywhere with slots for kids as early as 1.5yrs old. I remember when my kids were young, a lot of pre schools would reject kids they think doesn’t reached their so called standards, or if they accept the students, just a few misbehaviors and they are being branded as ADHD, parents were advised to have their kids diagnosed and advice for therapy. As I have always advise my friends with kids who were diagnosed with ADHD or some kind of developmental delay, let the child be a child first, I feel it is what our society perceived what should be right and milestones of the children that are considered acceptable that is causing the abrupt shoot up of developmental delay diagnosis. Children now are not given the chance to be babies or have fun, it is considered a standard norm to go to some kind of learning school at age 1.5 then continuing their studies until they reach masteral degree! By the time they are done studying, they have already lost their life’s most fun years!! How sad for the younger generation…

  9. Lensel says:

    I’m partly guilty of this, too. In my side of the family, kids learn their ABCs and numbers 1 to 10 at 1 y.o., by 3 y.o. they can already read 3 to 4 letter words and by 6 y.o. basic algebra and advance reading. Because of this, I try to push my own 3 y.o. meet these achievements and be competitive with her cousins. But I learned that no matter how hard I try to push her if she’s not ready, she’s not ready. In the end, I started to just follow her pace and read her good books and play songs that she chose herself. She still hasn’t reached what her cousins has achieved academically but all I can say she’s turning out to be a well-rounded person. Besides, my husband has always opposed to my trying to push my daughter in learning things and said what’s important is not to be academically smart but to be smart enough to reach heaven when it’s time to go as that’s where we are all going anyway.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

  10. Mai Co says:

    I agree that children learn at their own pace and time. However with so much things being written abt red flags for special children i also understand a parent’s point of view regarding their worries abt the things their children could and couldn’t do. These worries will help them guide the appropriate intervention a special child would need. I am not saying that we should be paranoid which some parents are, we hust need to give all our love and aupport to our kids no matter how fast or slow their progress are.

  11. Annie says:

    Thank you soo soo much for such a wonderful reminder of letting our childern be children!

  12. corazon y. gonzales says:

    On the issue-”CHILDHOOD SHOULDN’T BE A RACE”
    As a retired teacher, I’ve experienced being a part of the ‘so competitive environment’ of pinoy schools here and abroad.
    As early as prep school, kids are exposed to the so -called “TOP 3 to TOP 10 competitions”.
    Because of this parents hurdled to force their kids to the top. They are promised incentives particularly latest gadgets which kids love.
    If the child does not make it to the top, he is deprived of rewards, both in school and at home. There are parents who even reprimand their kids for failure to meet the competitive grades.
    To me that is traumatic to the child. I opined that giving material rewards in exchange of high grades is sort of bribery, the start of simple corruption.
    The gifts maybe given on occasions but not bartered for a gold or silver medal.
    Sectioning of kids give negative impact on kids. Section 1 are intelligent, lower sections are not.
    In the US, I learned from my ‘apo’ that grouping of kids is heterogeneous. Grades are not numerical; they are descriptive.
    Numerals like 99, 75, 65 connotes positivity or negativity in the minds of the kids especially if parents become particular about them and demand that their kids aim for the highest.
    There is no discrimination as to race, culture, etc. There is no recognition day on who is outstanding or not.
    In most pinoy schools, recognition day is imperative. Medals are awarded to parents and kids.
    It’s pathetic to the kids who are not awardees.
    Let us accept our kids as they are. Let them play and enjoy being a kid; don’t pressure on assignments and memorization of facts which they don’t understand; eventually they will learn about them.
    Let the children laugh, enjoy, play and sweat out. Limit the use of tablets; Avoid sedentary lives.
    “Let the children’s laughter reminds us how we used to be……”

    • Gem says:

      Thank you Miss Corazon. I finally found another Filipino who have the same opinion as I do.I grew up in the Philippines and now raising my child in the States. I hate it when I was in school. Our test papers were given back to us after it was checked. Each student will come to the front to return the test paper as the teacher calls the score from highest to lowest. Almost always the whole class was laughing when the kid with the lowest score was called. That was just sad and wrong.

      • corazon y. gonzales says:

        Gem, that is a form of corporal punishment.worse than smacking kids physically. It affects the child psychologically, results to inferiority complex and low self-esteem.
        Acc. to UNICEF let us educate our kids don’t punish them.

  13. dr janvi jhamnani says:

    very nice article

  14. ZillaUnit says:

    What a bunch of crock. Every family is different. I come from a very competitive family and loved it. Your child doesn’t need to be an idiot to have fun or know they are loved.

    If you compare your child to another child and feel like you are failing as a parent. Chances are you probably are. Turn off the TV, get off your fat ass, and teach your child what you think they should know and trust me they will learn quickly. They are little sponges at that age.

    My advice would be to keep it fun. If you make them hate learning, they will hate learning. Be patient and give them praise. Keep it short as their attention span at young ages is pretty small. You know your child more than anyone else so you know when to start and stop. Every child is different.

    The one thing I will agree with is that no matter what you feel or think at some point your child will learn these things. The question is do you want them learning from someone else? I would rather my child look up to me, rely on me, and respect me and not some other child in school or a teacher. That’s just me though.

  15. Satyapal says:

    Very good information

  16. I love this article and I learn so much from it! I believe that every child is unique in their own ways but they all need their parent’s time, devotion, attention, support, understanding, respect, and above all, our love… all these are essential in releasing our children’s potential in life.

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