Reading the review of The Price of Privilege (Harper Collins) by Madeline Levine PhD at Phillip’s blog (http://stroke.blog.co.uk) reminds me of my own experience when Angie was little.
Angie could read when she was three years old coz I started to introduce her to books when she was around one year old. She loved seeing the funny and colorful pictures in her books and started to pay attention to the letters under each picture. She could recognize different colors (red, blue, green, yellow, pink, gray, white, orange, brown) at the age when her friends only recognize only two or three colors maximally. This made the teacher in her playgroup recognize Angie as a smarter kid than her friends. I saw it too and felt proud coz of that.
When she was at kindergarten, she already could recite Alquran well while her classmates still learned how to spell the Arabic letters. By the end of the first year in her kindergarten, she performed many kinds of things on the stage, around six times (reciting Alquran, marching band, reading a poem, and performed three different dances). I was busy help her change her costume anytime she was about to perform. And again, I felt very proud coz of that.
Without my awareness, it made me more ambitious to see Angie excel at everything. When she started the first grade of elementary school, she joined some extra activities after school: English course, dancing, modeling, drawing, swimming, and playing keyboard. After some months, she started to join competition—dancing, English, modeling, drawing, and swimming. This made both of us busy every Sunday to join the competition here and there. She won some of those competitions. I saw her very proud with her trophies. And of course, I was also very proud.
Not long after that, she started to feel bored with her hectic activities everyday. She started to refuse to practice dancing, etc. I started to push her. I didn’t want to lose my dream to see my daughter as a star in all aspects.
Fortunately, my bigger love to her, rather than to myself—to be a selfish mother who wants to see the kid become the commodity of the mother’s egotism—could stop me.
I gave her the full right to choose what to do—to enjoy her childhood by being an ordinary kid (without any pressure to excel in anything), or to join any competition when she wanted to do that, especially when she missed to feel to be the center of attention when she was on the stage.
Angie is a very common girl now among her school friends. Sometimes both of us love to spend time to look at the pictures when she joined many competitions as one unforgettable experience. In fact, Angie loved to remember the time when she was the star of a stage. LOL. Her busy schedule at school of course doesn’t give her much time to do like what she used to do when she was at elementary school. And as a mother, I really give her full right to choose what to do including what extra curricular activities to take at school. And I will always support her choice and be there when she needs me.
The five tips Dr Levine gives
Appreciate your children as they are. Don't waste time trying to create the perfect child you wish you had
Don't damage their self-esteem by criticizing their efforts too often. Don't reject them - that feeds self-hatred
Basic warmth between a parent and child - hugs, kisses, listening, words of empathy - is the first pillar of parenting
Discipline is vital. Be consistent; that helps kids develop self-control
Spend time together. Eat your evening meal together as often as possible, and involve your children in as many rituals as possible, such as worship or sport
In a way, it is similar to one proverb in Javanese “Tut Wuri Handayani”: as the parent, we just support our children from behind, and be there when they need our help: and not decide what their future will be like based on our own interest.
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