child-865116_1920When our team at TomorrowToday talks about the future of work, one of the first questions we’re often asked is “what should my child study”? Parents obviously have a particular set of concerns about the future related to their children, but there is a danger that overachieving (or anxious) parents can put too much stress on their children. The evidence of this is seen everywhere in the world’s schooling systems, as more young people than ever are taking antidepressants and going to therapy.

I recently came across a superb article in Fast Company magazine that every parent should read: How overachieving parents can avoid pressuring their kids.

It suggests four things for parents to consider:

  • Recognise that achievement might not look like what you expect. Our definitions of success include looking at the grades, marks and awards handed out by a traditional schooling system. We should look at a much wider range of activities, lifestyle choices and attitudes as well.
  • Don’t expect your children to replicate or compensate for your ambitions.
  • Be aware of other sources of stress, and actively work to help reframe these for your child.
  • Identify, measure, reward and celebrate the process, and not just the outcomes. Our children need to be praised for the effort, diligence, passion and love of that they do, and not just on being “top of tree” or achieving a specific grade in a test.

It’s fine to have ambitions for our children, and to teach them to have ambition for themselves too. But let’s not forget that childhood should also be about play, having fun, developing nurturing relationships and exploring the world.

Our future – and the future of our children – depends on them being a lot more resilient, flexible, open to ongoing learning, more adaptable to change and more creative than we were ever required to be. The way to develop these character traits is not the way our core skills were developed. Parents need to change their view of what their focus should be, and be open to new approaches to raising their children.

For more information, see Graeme’s book, written with one of TomorrowToday’s key partners, Nikki Bush, “Future Proof Your Child”.  See more here

Also see for fabulous and very practical parenting resources.

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