Understanding a Show Case Kid

It is 7:30 PM and eight year old *Aakash returns home, exhausted and fatigued. Aakash is an aspiring karate enthusiast and today his teacher had asked him to stay for an extra hour for the upcoming Karate championships. The next morning, Aakash longs to snuggle under the sheets for some more time, but he must wake up at the 5:00 AM to take bath and get ready for his music classes which commence in half an hour. The music classes are followed by an hour of studies and preparing for various class tests. In addition to his music and Karate classes, Aakash also attends the Abacus class on weekends. When asked, what he wants to become when he grows up, Aakash promptly replies, “Mechanical Engineer” as taught by his ambitious father, who dreams of nothing less than IIT for his prodigious son. Aakash’s mother is happy however, uploading the videos of her child on You Tube.
In another part of the world, seventeen year old *Samar Dhingra stares with dismay at his parents. Ever since, he had failed to qualify in IIT-JEE Mains, his parents have refused to speak to him. A pall of gloom has descended upon the Dhingra household. According to Samar, who is trying hard not to let his despair show, it is as though someone had died in their house. He remembers with bitterness, how his parents used to flaunt his medals and shields until the results were announced.
“It is as though all my victories in debating competitions and sports meets have turned to dust,” the agonized teen tells his friend.

Every parent dreams of a trophy kid, who not only brings accolades to the family, but also, whose videos on You tube, whether they be related to mathematics or Shlokas become instantly viral.


Aakash and Samar belong to the multiplying tribe of “show case” kids. According to Ushasri Nannapaneni, a Professional Soft Skills Trainer and Personality Development Counselor, “show case kids” have always existed. In the past, we’ve had proud parents, pushing their rather reluctant and shy kids in front of total strangers and asking them to sing/dance/perform. But with urbanization and the explosion of social media, this tendency has crossed all reasonable limits. Every parent dreams of a trophy kid, who not only brings accolades to the family, but also, whose videos on You tube, whether they be related to mathematics or Shlokas become instantly viral. According to Ushasri, viewing children as brand ambassadors is a dangerous trend which inflicts more harm on the society than consumerism.

Identifying a Show Case Kid

How do you identify a show case Kid? A show case kid, unlike the kid, who is free to choose his passions, feels increasingly burdened under the combined weight of both academic and non academic activities. The lessons, which would earlier bring in a rush of adrenaline, now fill the child with dread. The child feels as though he/she is living under a microscope and begins to feel guilty if he/she does not live up to his parents’ expectations.
A typical show case child, who has been pushed beyond his/her limits exhibits the following tell tale signs:
• Psychosomatic disorders
• Sleep disturbances
• Headaches
• Increasing alienation
• Self Abuse
• Suicidal tendencies

Good Stress versus Bad Stress

Does this mean that a child who shows interest in various activities needs to be protected always? The answer is an empathetic “No” . Madeline Levine, the author of the path breaking books such as “The Price of Privilege” and “Teach Your Children Well”, in a candid interview with Huff Post, emphasized how over-parenting never works towards the well being of the child. She goes on to clarify, how parents need to understand the difference between good stress or eustress, that helps the child maximize his/her potential and bad stress or distress that causes anxiety in the child. According to the author, children thrive when parents are available, reliable, consistent and non- interfering. The trick here is to understand that good parenting is not always about how your child is ranked or measured against societal standards. It is about being there for your child and help them steer tough times.
As young Samar very petulant puts it, “I don’t want to be featured in my parents’ conversations with their friends all the time. I would rather prefer that they listen to me for a fraction of that.”
If you are a parent, who constantly tells your child that “you” know what is “best” for your child, chances are that your child’s anxiety, anger, sadness, sense of emptiness might spiral into something, that is beyond the realms of normal parental control.

It is my hope, that by better understanding the nonacademic parts of development, we will be able to shift our focus and return to the most critical part of parenting

In Ms Levine’s own words, “It is my hope, that by better understanding the nonacademic parts of development, we will be able to shift our focus and return to the most critical part of parenting: making certain that our children have been provided with the essentials— the time, the guidance, the psychological space, and the unconditional love—to be able to develop their unique selves, capable of not simply apparent or superficial success, but deep authentic success. ”
• Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals concerned.

Web References: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/teach-your-children-well-madeline-levine-interview_n_1765313.html?section=india
http://www.amazon.com/Teach-Your-Children-Well-Parenting/dp/0061824747
http://www.amazon.com/The-Price-Privilege-Generation-Disconnected/dp/0060595841/ref=pd_sim_14_1?ie=UTF8&dpID=51FuXt4FAYL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR106%2C160_&refRID=1Y5ES8FTBVVY3P4RJFSC

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