David Elkind Ph.D.
The Price of Hurrying Children
Using what we know
Posted Jun 27, 2008
When I published The Hurried Child in 1981, I was labeled a Pop psychologist and the book was not even reviewed iContemporary Psychology, the prestigious monthly book review journal of the American Psychological Association. Over the last decade or so however, a truckload of books and articles have been documenting the long and short term effects of pressuring children to grow up too fast too soon. The titles tell the story: The Over-Scheduled Child, Pressured Parents: Stressed Out Kids, Parenting Inc., Consuming Kids, So Sexy So Soon, Less Stress for Success, The Price of Privilege, These books, and many more, attest to the fact that what I observed a quarter of century ago was real phenomena and, that if anything,e it has now become the norm.
Hurrying children is a problem that has always been with us. It was recognized and commented on by our most gifted educational theorists. In response to hurrying they have all returned to the same fundamental principle, namely, that childrearing and education should be adapted to the growing needs interests and abilities of children. In his classic Emile Jean Jacques Rousseau ascribed all the defects of body and soul in pupils is due to "The desire to make men of them before their time." Freidrich Froebel, inventor of the kindergarten, wrote, "The, child, the boy, the man should know no other endeavor, but to be at every stage of development, what that stage calls for." Famed Italian Educator, Maria Montessori said, "The Child's work is to create the man that is to be. The adult will be a fully harmonious individual only if he has been able, at each preceding stage, to live as nature intended him to."
The irony is that no one believes in hurrying children. No parent, educator, or legislator I ever spoke to believes in pressuring children to do things well beyond what they are capable of doing. . "I don't believe in hurrying children but," And there is always a but. A parent says, "I don't believe in hurrying but if I don't put my child in soccer, he will have no one to play with and won't make the team. And the educator says I don't believe in hurrying but the curriculum says I have to teach reading in kindergarten. The legislator says she does not believe in hurrying but that is what her constituents want. If we want healthy, happy children who can compete in an increasingly global economy we have to get beyond the But. We have to use what we know about healthy childrearing and education.