Children today are under more pressure than ever before begging the question how long will it be before the balloon pops?
In today’s society image and expectation are amongst the two biggest curses placed on children as they fight to secure their place in an ever competitive, demanding world. Pressure from peer groups, media, schools and even parents are placing far too big a strain on young heads and the result is a world in which children are resorting to methods that hinder their health and are counter-productive to their long term well-being.
It’s been reported that a whacking 83% of children interviewed by researchers have expressed concerns over issues such as school and bullying. 46% worry about their employment prospects whilst a fifth of all 11 year olds in a survey that covered 1500 young people said they had felt under pressure to try drugs and alcohol! A staggering 65% of the children spoken to said they felt judged on their appearance with 19% of 13 year olds in the groups admitting to the fact they had considered taking slimming pills!
These statistics are cause for massive concern predicated on the judgemental world that we have created; a world that subscribes to blame and judgement at the expenses of our children’s childhood and one that we have to now step up to the mark and realize is suffocating our children rather than nurturing their well-being and future. But what can be done and how quickly can it be actioned to help our beleaguered young people.
Children want their childhood and they also want time from their parents. They want to be able to enjoy their formative years knowing that they are supported and assisted in their pathways to adulthood. They do not want to feel under pressure, overwhelmed by need to conform and burdened by the need to please those around them and yet we seem to have created a society that does exactly that. Instead then of overloading our children we need to take the time to find out what makes them tick, what motivates them and help them develop intrinsic muscle to deal with the stresses and strains of life. No magic wand is going to instantly appear to wipe out the demands of everyday life but working in a healthy partnership with children to deal with these is the first step forward to helping them keep their head above water. Helping them orchestrate their own lives, to make their own decisions and instil a resolve to have the courage of their convictions all goes a long way to building the resilience and resolve that our young children are craving. It isn’t necessarily about removing the pressure, but giving children the tool kit to manage the stresses and strains that they come across.
Whatever the external pressures on our children, the media images that beset them and the relentless pressures from peers, parents and schools, young people need to be brought up to be the authors of their own lives. Removing third party expectation and encouraging aspiration will go a long way in helping them set their own goals (and boundaries) whilst boosting self-esteem and promoting a healthy confidence. But critically creating the space in our busy lives to spend quality time with our children, to understand their world and to work together to help them forge their way with resilience through adolescence and beyond cannot be understated.