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Whatever happened to childhood?

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Whatever happened to childhood?

A recent report quoted a doctor with Beijing’s Chaoyang Hospital as saying that the reason for primary and middle school children committing suicide is that they are so worried about the test to get into a good school. We witness the same scenario in India too as students are pressured so much to perform well in classes.
It’s truly painful that life has become more a burden than a pleasure. Childhood seems to have gone from the life of today’s children. Today everyone is in the rat race—a race where you must always win, and you can’t afford to lose. Not even once.
Since the nation’s economy has been developing fast, rapid social changes are causing various kinds of mental ailments. And these have led to chronic psychological pressure, depression and attempted suicide.
A recent study has found that most of the families in the city felt constant pressure from one source or another, but social competition or work-related stress are the main causes. There is pressure everywhere—in classroom, in family life and at workplace. Right from early childhood, a youngster is forced into this mindless and frenetic competition.
There is very little joy left in the lives of today’s children. They are grimly frog-marched through grueling schedules by parents who don’t want them to waste a single moment of their young lives being what they are: kids.
There isn’t any personal freedom for children any longer. In our increasingly paranoid times, we are reluctant to let them walk to the corner shop alone; let alone take a bus to school.
There was a time when we were allowed to roam free through the neighborhood with our friends with no adult around. We used to move around barefoot enjoying nature’s bountiful gifts. Occasionally, we scrounged around for foliage that we would chew. At times we were attacked by an odd caterpillar or a snail. We had unalloyed fun and our life was care free. We were all left on our own. There was no pressure to perform. We used to read books. Our interaction with friends was such great fun that there was never a dull moment in our lives. There was no pressure or over-protection.
In today’s over-supervised, regimented times, children are hardly left alone. They are goaded to one and only mission: you must win. For them everything is a matter of life and death. Victory is all they know about. Defeat is alien to them and strictly unacceptable.
Today a child is put through enormous pressure to get admitted into a good school. And once admitted, he or she is asked to get to the top. The child is constantly told to achieve and achieve only. Failure thus leads to frustration and depression.
Let our children have unalloyed joys of childhood. Let the “beautiful minds” have fun. Let us encourage them to use their own creativity to devise their own entertainment. Let us create an environment in which children can cultivate their powers of imagination. Let us instill in them the confidence to accept defeat as a challenge and emerge as a better individual.
Childhood is truly a magical time. Einstein said he would always like to see things through the eyes of a child. Every child is unique. Every child has potential. We just have to spark the latent talent and guide them towards a better tomorrow.


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