Did you see the ad above? How truly wonderful and on point it is! Which parent and child will not relate with it? In today’s world, the rat race for children begins when they are really small. When innocence and mischief should dictate their lives, they attend classes and events so that they do better than the neighbour’s child. I’ve heard parents compare marks of children as young as first graders. It is sheer madness. The constant competition and comparison is making their childhoods overtly competitive and miserable. We hear that the syllabus is easing to make lower classes stress free but the incessant pressure from parents to see super achievers in their children is causing stress and depression even in children as young as 8 or 9. Yes, I’ve seen many such parents around me.
As soon as kids get into Class 9, I see the entire environment around them evolve.
From teachers to other parents to their own peers, everyone tells them that this is the time to only study and forget life. The high performers of their own grade and neighbourhood are mentioned so that they can perform even better than them. Yes, I know. I have been there. My son just appeared for his 10th Boards. And despite all the pressure that the world around him put on him, at home his father and I tried to make him feel at ease. I know my child. He will work to the best of his ability, and that is good enough for me.
In its new marketing campaign, brand Classmate takes on this exact theme #BeBetterThanYourself. The communication is conceived to challenge long-standing, and widely held assumptions on the nature of “competition”.
Children, through school and college, are almost always compared with others – their classmates and peers. And in an achievement-oriented society like ours, they are conditioned to perceive “others” as competition.
In this backdrop, “Be Better Than Yourself” kicks off a crusade against such a prevailing view, and how it shapes the kids as they grow up. It reminds us that the rise to the top is a battle against oneself, and a journey with others.
As a matter of fact, this is what I’ve maintained for both my children. They are their own competition. They chart their own courses in life. They make their own decision and choose their own destiny. It’s okay if they are not toppers. How does it matter? They are not trophies to be tom-tommed on Facebook status updates but flesh-and-blood children who must learn to take failure in the same stride as success. And for that reason, my older son did all the normal things like play games, walk, watch television and read books while his Board exams were on. Why should the child be expected to study at all times? It is counter productive – this pressure cooker environment. I want him to enjoy all facets of his growing up years, even studies.
This when I saw the world around me go nuts. Parents who thought that their kids must study even over the weekends because this is their age to work hard. These dimwit arguments cut no ice with me. Yes, I know given our education system, there is a time when they have to slog especially when they have to prepare for professional exams but why burden them from now? Why make them suffer every moment and compare them to every topper or high-performing child?
Competition should only be to spur us to do better, not to invoke jealousy, not to constantly compare and judge. Just to be a better version of ourselves is what all of us must emphasize. And you know what, when they do that they emerge more confident and successful.
This is the exact philosophy I aim for them to follow. They are their own competition, and they should judge themselves only against their own previous performance. Just like the Classmate brand’s ad showed.
This is what I wish for all children.
Be the best version of Yourself. Strive to achieve your full potential.
This Mother’s Day, let’s all endeavor to let our children enjoy their life so that they grow into happy and fulfilled adults. Marks will never define their worth, happiness or success. I am so glad that the above campaign is spreading this message.
Hopefully, we will all rethink our parenting methods and let the child in our children’s childhood thrive and grow.
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