We all know that raising children is incredibly challenging. It was challenging when I had young children many years ago. I remember all too well the issues we faced at every stage of their development. Unfortunately, children do not come with handbooks, leaving us with many more questions than answers. For those of us who were exposed to Dr. David Elkind, the highly-respected voice of reason, we were called to attention about the effects of hurrying our children through life. Parents today also deal with those more “traditional” issues of years past, but these issues are now compounded by other influences which make it increasingly difficult to raise healthy, happy, self-confident, well-adjusted children and young adults. Schedules are often so tightly programmed that there is no time to simply play and imagination. The pressure to excel in school is immense and we are seeing more and more children, some as young as 5 and 6, with extreme anxiety. Kids are constantly exposed to violence and sex through television, video games, the internet, music, advertising and magazines. Even if we try to shield them, there is a limit to what we can do. Raising children in this social climate is a daunting task.
Many parents speak to me about the pressures they feel: pressure to push their kids for academic achievement, to engage their children in competitive sports, to make sure their kids have the newest and best toys and electronics. If adults feel this pressure so acutely, it comes as no surprise that children feel it as well!
The Hurried Child by David Elkind, was first published in 1981. This book explains the pitfalls that befall children in the rush to grow up. Elkind discusses the importance of childhood and the invaluable lessons they can learn on the playground, in the backyard and during unstructured time. Elkind called our attention to the effects of hurrying our children through life.
The third edition of this book was published in 2001 and its 25th anniversary edition was introduced in 2006. What a difference a quarter of a century makes! Elkind takes his timeless principles from the 1980s, and translates them into the language and experiences for today’s parents. He shows parents and teachers the areas in which “hurrying” occurs and why. He offers insight, advice and hope to all of us. It is a wonderful book that I strongly recommend to my clients to help navigate today’s world. I hope this provides a perspective that brings some calm and clarity to your parenting experience.