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Factfile: Hyper-parenting

The transatlantic parenting trend that could be damaging your child


Posted: 7 December 2012
by Fiona McKim

What is it? When a parent ensures their child has a busier schedule than David Cameron, fitting in hours of sports clubs, music lessons and any other hobbies you might care to think of, not to mention school, homework and the small matters of eating and sleeping.

What are the benefits? Parents who micro-manage their child’s lives may feel that by building up their children’s skill set in as many areas as possible, they are giving them the best chance of a successful future. School-gate pressure can play a part too, if friends or colleagues have conformed to this parenting style.

What are the disadvantages? Many experts believe that a slower, more laissez-faire approach to parenting actually nurtures happier and more successful children. While equipping them with many academic skills, over-scheduling your child’s life takes her away from relaxing family time and socialising with peers, both of which are important for development. As well as this an overly anxious style of parenting may put undue stress and pressure on your child to ‘succeed’ and reach specific, measurable targets instead of learning to value herself and her personal qualities as a whole.

How to avoid hyper-parenting

  • Avoid signing your child up for too many extra-curricular activities. Even if you feel pressured by other parents to compete with their busy family schedules, think about what is manageable for your family.
  • Arrange to have at least one day each week with an empty diary for the whole family, and see where the day takes you. Spend a Sunday with your children in the house or garden, having relaxed, schedule-free fun.
  • Try not to buy into every parenting fad or piece of research that comes along. Trust your instincts about what will work for your children.
  • Lead by example. Relaxed parents make for happier children, so resist the temptation to overstuff your own schedule or fret about all of the things you feel you should be doing. 

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