Making children child-adultsbefore adulthood...
Thereís a debate on in the USA over child beauty pageants - should
such contests be held at all? Apart from turning children into
child-adults, such contests have been known to bring uncalled-for
pressure and stress into the lives of children taking part. There was
even a murder reported some years ago, of a child who was a participant
in one such show.
Childhood is a time to be spent doing what children do.
Unfortunately, in todayís rat race centred world, not many children get
to spend childhood the way it should be spent. In Sri Lanka too, there
are contests that the parents encourage the children to participate in -
more than ever, children are being robbed of their childhood with way
too many classes and activities jammed into their schedule. Often the
parents are to blame. In their quest for recognition for their talented
little star, the parents will usually not stop at anything to make sure
she/he get the recognition deserved.
Itís true that talented children must be recognized for their
outstanding creativity and gifted ability - to turn them in the process
to miniature adults is another. The parents will not stop at anything to
dress them up, often mimicking adults and will keep them living some
sort of a demented adult dream, making them sing adult songs or engage
in adult centred entertainment activities.
There was a time when childhood talent was recognized and hailed on
age-appropriate outlets such as kids talent shows and quiz contests. The
children were not dressed up to the nines as adults and nor were they
exposed to adult themes in entertainment. But times have changed. You
want to cringe when you see heavily made up children, whether they are
in Sri Lanka, USA or elsewhere.
They miss the sweetness of a childhood they will never experience
again. And thatís sad because you will never get to re-live your
Beauty pageants, fashion shows and
talent contests are a no-no if they encourage mimicking
We as adults and parents must learn where to draw the line in
encouraging our children in displaying their talents.
Beauty pageants, fashion shows and talent contests are a no-no if
they encourage mimicking adults and are an obvious display of adult
Children must have boundaries within which they could operate when
displaying their talents - school level or national level events and
activities that do not encourage them to be like adults but rather help
them stand out as children, are usually fine.
It is sad to watch the dressed up children - babes whose minds and
levels of thinking are being messed, at best.
We as parents must understand that they should not be made to be
stage Ďanimalsí on display. Some of us may have unrealized dreams to be
stars but that should not affect our talented children. Too many of us
parents strive to live their dream through the children.
The same thing happens when we as parents drive our children to excel
in studies. Newspapers reported of two children who chose to end their
lives because they could not pass O/Levels - one died while the other
was saved thanks to immediate intervention.
It is not fair to put too much pressure on the young minds to excel
in studies. Of course, you need to give your children goals and
strategies and reign them in to perform well at exams and some kind of
pressure is fine but consistent, unrelenting pressure that seeks out ban
all other social and sports activities in pursuit of studies only can be
We as parents need to understand that our children are not clones of
who we were as children. We grew up during a different era - the biggest
entertainment we had was TV, which arrived in Sri Lanka only almost at
the beginning of the 80s. We were not connected real time to the world
via the Internet.
We did not play games on line with gaming partners from around the
world. We had books and loved them but we did not have Google books and
Kindle. Itís a whole different world for children growing up today.
They know more than we did back then and they can relate to much
more. We need to understand their mind set before we try to get them to
conform to what we believe is what is best for them.
They must be able to enjoy their childhood and do the things they
must do in order to build a healthy personality. If we try to turn them
into adults before their time, they will grow up with dented
They need to engage in age-appropriate activities that will
strengthen and build their inner selves, making them confident and
caring children. Thatís a responsibility we as parents must always keep