No play

It can be said that life has today become more a burden than a pleasure for everyone. Adults feel this burden all the time because of social competition and work-related stress. But a worrying trend is that this burden is also being felt, and more intensely, by our children today. Childhood seems to have gone from the life of our children. Everyone is in the rat race, a race where one must always win, and where one can’t afford to lose – not even once. Perhaps, all this is a result of the many changes rapidly taking place in the society. It won’t be wrong to say that most parents of the children of today grew up when computers had little impact on our lives. And the grandparents of today’s children grew up when there were no computers at all, no television, no mobiles and air travel was rare. The technological changes today signify the enormous changes that have taken place during this century. Children of today are in a very different situation from the one their parents or the grandparents were. And it has directly resulted in various kinds of mental ailments, leading to chronic psychological pressure, depression, etc., scarring our children for life. Most families today feel constant pressure from one source or another, the main source of pressure comes from social competition and work-related stress. There’s pressure everywhere – in the classroom, in family life and at the workplace. Right from early childhood, a youngster is forced into this mindless and frenetic competition. The end result being there is very little joy left in the lives of the children, because 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 as much as walk to the corner shop alone, let alone take a bus to school. That was the time when we were allowed to roam free through the neighborhood with our friends with no adult around. We used to run around barefoot enjoying nature’s bountiful gifts and occasionally we even scrounged around for foliage that we would chew. Sure, at times we were attacked by an odd caterpillar or a snail that scared us. But we had fun and our life was stimulating, because we were all left on our own and more importantly there was no pressure to perform. This directly meant that our interaction with friends was great fun and there was never a dull moment in our lives. There was no pressure and no over-protection then. All these have changed now in today’s over-supervised, regimented times. Today children are hardly left alone, and they are made to chase a mission, the mission that they must win at any cost. For them, everything is a matter of life and death. Victory is all they know about – defeat is alien, and strictly unacceptable. A child is today even put through enormous pressure even to get admitted into a good school. Once admitted, he or she is asked to get to the top, always. The child is constantly told to achieve and achieve only. Consequently, failure will naturally lead to frustration and depression. Such a situation has put the future of children and hence the society at stake. As parents and elders it is duty bound on us to let our children have the unalloyed joys of childhood, to let the “beautiful minds” have fun and encourage them to use their own creativity to devise their own entertainment instead of forcing them into a grueling schedule, which in the long run would be counterproductive. Instead of frog-marching our children into areas beyond their capacity, we, as parents, ought to create an environment in which children can cultivate their powers of imagination. Hand in hand, we should strive to instill in them the confidence to accept defeat as a challenge and emerge as a better individual. Childhood is truly a magical time, and we should not rob our children from enjoying their moment.