Are we growing children with low frustration tolerance?

ChildrenI recently read a blog post on a young mother who prepares to send her child to pre-school for the first time. Amongst some of the things she does, she also practises walking with the child to school for a week before it actually begins! Most of her post waxed eloquent about how she has spent the past 2.5 years completely with her child, never leaving him alone, not even with grandparents, and how she was so concerned that nothing disturb his schedule of feed time and nap time, which is why she had put off sending him to school for this long as well.

She seemed a perfectly attentive and hands-on mother, yet the only thing I could think was “how stifling – both for the child and mother!”.

And the whole thing about not disturbing the child’s schedule—I look around me and see that more and more parents are increasingly fixated on not allowing anything to disturb their child’s routines. Theoretically this is a good practice – to have scheduled meal times, nap times, etc for children so that we can inculcate in them good and healthy habits and discipline. However, like any good practise, it needs to be flexible as well, to make adjustments for those days when parents need to stay out a bit longer or expect people for dinner, for errands that must be done.

There are a lot of parents who will reschedule and replan their whole lives to suit their children, but adhered to rigidly, I can’t help feeling that this is creating a breed of youngsters who cannot adapt and who have low frustration tolerance!

I see children who have a meltdown because they are out and their food is a few minutes late (I am not talking about babies or toddlers here, but slightly older children), who become extremely cranky because their bed time has been slightly delayed, who want things ‘Now’ and who hate to even go out anywhere where there is nothing special revolving around their interests.

What are we doing?!

Our children cannot adjust to change anymore, cannot adapt, and going out with them for a holiday or for a meal becomes a chore because we are scared of their reactions and their tantrums; so we cater to all their whims and let our lives be dictated by them. I would rather oblige my child than be dictated to by her.

I can’t help feeling that we need to loosen up a little and let children break rules once in a way – eat junk, sleep late, watch TV, stay out to play longer and delay dinner time by ten minutes. And watch them become more adaptable, more cheerful and less cranky, less prone to meltdowns at the least hint of change. Allowing them some latitude and expecting them to cope with change will teach them to take things in their stride, become more resilient in the face of change and learn to tolerate frustration.

Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children. This blog was written by Kritika Srinivasan  who is an Editor at ParentEdge.

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