Every parent would like his/her child to be successful and confident or to have an edge over other children. With the changing times of increasing competition and the necessity to excel in not just one, but almost everything, it’s sometimes difficult to avoid the hothouse parenting style, which includes pressing/forcing a child to learn something beyond suitable learning level or cognitive age (hothouse children). This is one of the Overparenting Styles, another well known style being the helicopter parenting style.
Educational toys, flash cards and nicely designed books are available to facilitate advanced learning for babies and toddlers. Watching other kids being made to learn from these sources provokes a parent to follow suit, as parents won’t like their child to be left behind.
Today when education system does not refrain from asking preschoolers and toddlers to pass school admission tests to keeping higher cut off percentages, all these add to a parent’s worry for a child’s success in this increasingly competitive world.
Children who are otherwise naturally talented and gifted, and who are learning earlier due to their own efforts and interest are not hothouse children, in case their parents are not pushing them to excel.
But the question is, is hothouse parenting style helpful for a child to learn better, or become better than what s/he can otherwise be? Will pushing the child to learn beyond capacity and level make him/her smarter, more confident, more successful or happier? Cases show that parents who keep high expectations (usually beyond the child’s natural ability) and push their child to learn beyond his/her appropriate age can make a child suffer from anxiety, may provoke him/her to cheat, or be dishonest in order to fulfill their parent’s expectations.
It is always right to try and help the child to be smart enough to handle the tough competition, or even perform better than peers. But being a hothouse parent is not always the right approach or solution. There are other positive ways to make this happen, for example building child’s interest so that there’s no need to push the child for an activity. More importantly, parents need to keep their expectations according to their child’s natural ability or according to his/her age and aptitude.
The big book of parenting solutions by Michele Borba, Ed.D.