Sunday, 4 September 2011

Lack of Benefits in Over Parenting

Children in Hong Kong, particularly the ones of A-type parents don't have much of a childhood.

When they are three years old the children are already prepped for pre-school entrance tests which entail not only identifying objects on flashcards but also be able to say their name, and talk about their hobbies.

Hobbies? At three years of age?

I recall one parent saying that during the interview, her daughter was asked her name and she replied, "bee bee" or "baby".

And from then onwards the parents ferry their children here and there for tutorials, classes for dance, music, sports and art in the hopes all these extracurricular activities will give their brood a leg up in the world.

However on the show Freakonomics, economist Bruce Sacerdote found that over parenting doesn't have much of an affect on children and in fact doesn't help much in their financial future. He discovered that while parents could have a moderate affect on your income in your early 20s, they basically have zero influence for the rest of your life.

Zero!

But what about over parenting when it comes to academic success? Economists Steven Levitt and Roland Fryer took national data of children from birth to grade school in the United States and crunched the numbers. Levitt concludes it doesn't matter how many activities your kids do whether they go to museums. There is no evidence that the parental choices of obsessive parents can be correlated with academic success. "When it comes to happiness of kids that kind of cultural cramming is negatively correlated with happiness," Levitt says.

Negatively correlated to happiness!

So let that be a lesson folks. While it's good to encourage your child to learn whatever interests them, there isn't much value in forcing them to play piano or go to a museum.

Sometimes it's better just to let kids be kids.

Now if only the rest of the Hong Kong population and school system would realize this too.

1 comment:

  1. this is what we call the 'stuffed duck' education. the parents are trying to stuff as much extracurricular activities as possible into the child. pity the poor kids of hong kong. that is one of the reasons we see so many teen suicides. they are the victims of such an abnormal practice only found in hong kong.

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