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If your child HAS to be the best in everything, is that not setting them up for a fall?

(31 Posts)
Manchesterhistorygirl Sun 07-Apr-13 14:17:32

Just thinking out loud, but I'm sure there's one of these at every school. The child who is the best at everything, reading, writing, dancing, swimming, athletics, numeracy, breathing, walking, etc.

You know who I mean the child who's mother makes them do every extra curricular activity they can find those that the popular parents offspring do who brag about their amazing child's abilities at very moment in real life and on faceache, etc.

Is it just me that thinks its bloody unfair on the child? They are never allowed to just be average at anything and are pushed yelled at by the pushy parent to always be the best, even to the extent of the parent lying about, and being caught out doing so, of their child's achievement. Surely the child is going to rebel at some stage. Aibu to feel quite sorry for the child and hope they can break free of the expectation of the parent to excel in every facet of their life?

I expect to be flamed, so away you go.

Tabliope Sun 07-Apr-13 14:23:07

I've seen elements of this over the years but not to the extreme you describe. Even if there are parents like this reality does tend to set in at some stage. It just boils down to the parent's insecurity so recognising it as that makes it easy to shrug off and ignore (while giving a little internal eye roll and smiling to yourself). Best to avoid such people.

Manchesterhistorygirl Sun 07-Apr-13 14:25:37

I actually agree that it represents huge insecurity on the part if the parent, but I feel desperately sorry for the child in who's shoulders all the baggage is placed.

Backtobedlam Sun 07-Apr-13 14:25:52

I don't think you can push someone into bring best at everything. I know that my dc haven't found reading/writing easy and no amount of 'pushing' has made them top of the class! Same for sports, you can give them the opportunity to try different things, but if they can't swim or hit a ball it doesn't matter how often you drag them there it won't make them top.

I agree some kids are naturally good at a range of things, so why wouldn't you give them the opportunity to enjoy excelling at something, it won't last forever.

MamaBear17 Sun 07-Apr-13 16:16:24

YANBU. I believe that all children need to learn how to fail, fall flat on their backsides and then get back up again and have another go. To me, teaching a child not to give up is far more important than being concerned about whether or not they are 'the best' at something.

nokidshere Sun 07-Apr-13 16:27:07

YABU to think that it is always the parent pushing. A child I know is good at everything she does. She excels at swimming, running, riding, drawing, dancing and does classes in all of these things. She is very bright academically and is always at the top of the class, seemingly without much effort. She is pretty, popular and lovely natured.

She is the one who pushes to run or swim. Sometimes she is tired and given the option not to go but she always does. She is the one who enters the competitions and pushes herself harder. She is the one who is disappointed when she doesn't get the times she wants.

My own two are good at their chosen sport. I would happily let them give it up tomorow but, come rain or shine, they want to be there. They want to practice, they are miserable when they lose despite my praises and platitudes.

Snoopingforsoup Sun 07-Apr-13 16:44:42

I agree OP. YANBU.
Each to their own but I can't bear how bad it's all got.
I don't think my kid will be a failure because I don't follow the herd with endless tutoring etc.

Manchesterhistorygirl Sun 07-Apr-13 18:03:46

No kids I should point out that this is very much the parent pushing. They also feel free to give other parents their advice in where they are going wrong. Huge insecurity issues obviously.

HedgeHogGroup Sun 07-Apr-13 18:44:55

Oh my goodness, did you meet my sister today - she is exactly like this and it drives me mad!

Snoopingforsoup Sun 07-Apr-13 18:57:44

It's all about the Parents ego!
Drives me mad.
There is always someone at the top, always someone at the bottom. Where I live being average is not acceptable! The poor kids smushed through the tutoring sausage machine so they can be 'the best' is unreal!
There are a lot of selective secondaries here, state and private and everyone expects their kids to get into the 'best' one or the world will explode! It's one thing wanting the right choice for your kid but it's quite another forcing them to be something they're not!
Why put your DC in a school where they will constantly struggle just so you can tell your mates at the golf club they got in?
Baffles me!

Awizardsstaffhasaknobontheend Sun 07-Apr-13 19:36:54

Ah, but sometimes they ARE the best at everything! My DD has a girl in her class who: is a scholarship student and very bright, won the prize for the best end of term report, won a national singing comp, is in the A team for all the sports, is playing the oboe for one of the regular lunchtime concerts in the local church - just her - whole concert, and to cap it all parents loaded and she is really nice as well! She was mentioned by name 3 times in the first 3 para of the housemasters end of term letter. It provoked quite an interesting conversation with my y7 DD where we discussed what it must be like being like that and how it can feel "unfair"! Of course life isn't fair which was the conclusion we came to and that my DD hadnt thought about how stressful always being amazing at everthing must be! The girl recently cried as her entrance for a science comp was beaten by....my DD's!
Im sure she will go on to do great things but now we refer to her between us as "perfect XXXXX"!

lljkk Sun 07-Apr-13 19:40:49

I don't know any parents like that. Not one. (So it must be me, ararar).

Actually, I do have one DC who excels at most things. I find it very difficult to talk to anyone about her ongoing accomplishments. She pushes herself hard enough. I'm the one trying to teach her moderation.

Cherriesarered Sun 07-Apr-13 19:44:58

It's hard being top of the class sometimes aswell. There was a perfect girl at my school, she went to Cambridge and had a nervous breakdown ( I know an old fashioned term but aptly describes what happened! )

I'm struggling to know what to say to Ds aged7 about the wonderboy at his school!

mummytowillow Mon 08-Apr-13 20:24:40

My SIL does this with my niece hmm She is 5 and a few months older than my DD. She is quite academic and a good reader.

My parents looked after them today, when I collected DD she was playing with dolls while my niece was doing workbooks sent by SIL wink

Thing is my niece is nearly six and can't dress or undress herself. Can't put own shoes on and has everything done for her.

She cries if she doesn't win and has to be the best at everything. My SIL thinks its more important to be the 'best' than have basic social skills.

Awizardsstaffhasaknobontheend Tue 09-Apr-13 11:06:22

Oh dear Mummytowillow! I can see trouble brewing there. Already feel sorry for her foundation teacher!

ICBINEG Tue 09-Apr-13 12:40:05

I just discovered I was like this at school. My DM being a proper miner's daughter was essentially somewhat mortified every time I wanted to enter a competition or, god forbid won. My DB and DSis were the same...so you would expect that it was all my DM's fault but it really wasn't.

I remember sitting next to her while my DB aged 7 played his trumpet in front of thousands and she was just a wreck awaiting the inevitable embarrassment when he did it wrong or cried...(he didn't of course...he was awesome)

Every time one of us wanted to perform she was a wreck and would often try and persuade us not to...she was dead against me applying to oxbridge too...

CoffeeChocolateWine Tue 09-Apr-13 13:03:34

Totally agree. I love my mum to bits but I found her very pushy when I was younger. I was fairly bright at school and I was musical and sporty. My mum was constantly telling me that I should aim for straight As, get to grade 8 and do public performances, and try and get to national level with my sport. It drove me mad and I'll be honest, she sucked all enjoyment out of my hobbies for me. I could never just take up a hobby FOR PLEASURE. I always had to aim high with it.

When I was 16 I had loads of stuff going on at the same time - my GCSEs, my grade 8 piano exam and the national qualifiers for my sport. I didn't get as many As as my mum had hoped (I was pleased with my results), I passed my grade 8 exam but didn't get distinction and missed out on the nationals. A week later my mum left an unfinished family newsletter on the computer in which she'd written that I (not SHE but ME!) was disappointed with all of my results. I cannot tell you how much of a failure I felt. I was so upset because I was really pleased with how I'd done and she had written down - in a letter for all our family - that it was disappointing.

When I became a mother I vowed NEVER to make my kids feel like that.

ItsintheBag Tue 09-Apr-13 13:17:54

My friend is like this is.
To my friend, her DD is gifted with school work-the teacher is wrong when her DD was told she needed more work at home on a topic in maths.
She is training in gymnastics where olympians train,as she is so good.
She rang the leisure center to demand she be put up a level in swimming.When they did and she couldn't manage, she then took her out and her DD taught herself to swim hmm
Her DD has everything going even if she doesn't want it, tablet,tv,any toy you can think of she is 7.This year as the tablet's seem to be new thing to have she told her DD that Santa had to bring one of these even though her DD wanted a dolls house.
I could go on but you get the picture.
It's all my friend's issues,I go between shock at what she comes out with to feeling sorry for her DD.It's awful to say but as a result of this her DD isn't very like able.

arabesque Tue 09-Apr-13 13:39:27

There are some children for whom things just seem to come easy; they are bright, sporty, musical, and make friends easily. It's not always down to pushy parents. I would say that children like that probably don't have to learn to persevere at things, or to challenge themselves and perhaps that might go against them when they do start meeting obstacles in life. But if you're good at a lot of things, that's just the way it is really.
I think there are parents that try to push their children at things they have no aptitude for whatsoever and that is definitely very unfair.

LessMissAbs Tue 09-Apr-13 13:48:37

I wonder what Jessica Ennis was like as a child?

I was one of those children I guess, I wasn't naturally talented but I did well at sports and academically because I pushed myself and worked hard. I didn't burn out and I still enjoy striving for success today. My parents didn't push me but encouraged me by not being negative.

DH OTOH has loads of talent and ability but his parents were more quietly discouraging. They've even tried to discourage me and would say things like "Don't get above yourself", etc.. I found it maddening, never having been told there was something I couldn't do, or at least try to do. Possibly as a result, despite having been to a better school than me and got better grades, I did better at university and earn more money than him, and he is, despite his good qualities, disorganised and not as well motivated.

TeWiSavesTheDay Tue 09-Apr-13 13:53:46

Yes. It does.

I don't think it's the same for children who have clear interests but aren't as good in other areas.

I went to private schools and had a few friends like this. Some were under enormous pressure for their parents and in the end, generally speaking, things went very badly. Most often they became anorexic (to have control) and their anxiety levels were huge.

But I have another friend who has been like this as long as I have known her (since nursery!) and her family is not pushy at all. Her siblings aren't like it either, it's just her personality. She has mental health issues, and I think it's possible that they influenced her personality rather than the other way around iykwim. I don't think the possibility that she might have autism was ever really taken seriously either.

Full of wild conjecture there, point being I don't think it is always coming from the parents.

Lueji Tue 09-Apr-13 14:01:49

I think it's good that parents to encourage their children to be the best they can.

Then there are the parents who make it sound as if their children are the best at everything.

Doing extra curricular activities is also good for the children to develop in areas where they are not so good, to experience different things, and to socialise.

TeWiSavesTheDay Tue 09-Apr-13 14:04:27

Being the best you can be is perfectly sensible - but the best in your class, best in the school, best in the country at everything is not.

DaemonPantalaemon Tue 09-Apr-13 15:39:34

You know those musicians you love? The people you listen to every day because you are moved by their music. They were once children. Nobel Prize scientists, award winning writers? Were once children. Those athletes you cheered on in the Olympics, they were once children. They were children whose parents (not in all cases, but in most) encourage them to excel, to find passion in what they enjoy. To master it.

I have a child whom we have been told could play at the very top-level at his sport. He plays a musical instrument (that is not the recorder), he does a martial art and is on the 4th belt, speaks two languages fluently, he is an avid reader, very bright in school, and is very ambitious at age 10.

Most of this is driven by him, the martial art is not one I ever thought, and the sport he excels in is the last sport I would have thought of, but I will encourage him all I can because I want him to give the best of himself, whatever he does.

alwayslateforwork Tue 09-Apr-13 15:41:05

Read carol dweck.

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