Why is it important for parents to look beyond academic strengths in their kids?

Why is it important for parents to look beyond academic strengths in their kids?

Written by Dr. Mona Gujral
Published: April 4, 2023

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Dr.Mona Gujral is a certified parenting coach with a background in psychology. She is the author of the best selling book-'Raising a Mindful Parent', a speaker on Mindful Parenting, and comes with over 5 years of experience.

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Table of Contents
  • arrow-right Foster a sense of curiosity
  • arrow-right Unique talents and passion
  • arrow-right Developing life skills
  • arrow-right Development of social skills
  • arrow-right Emotional Intelligence
  • arrow-right Boost self-confidence
  • arrow-right Pursuing personal interests

As parents, we all wish that our children are super successful, rich, and powerful. We give them examples of many well-known successful people like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Dhirubhai Ambani, and Sachin Tendulkar. All these people are masters in their chosen fields and were not necessarily outstanding in academics. But when it comes to working with our children we sadly only emphasize on their good academic performance.

We find it very hard to differentiate between gaining knowledge and getting good grades. As a result, immense pressure is built on the child which eventually kills all their desire to gain knowledge out of curiosity and love of the subject. This results in dry cramming of the facts to gain a good percentage.

This increasing parental pressure to score high grades is very toxic for the child and can harm them on many levels.

By constantly comparing your child to the neighbour’s children, friends in their class, and their own siblings, you as a parent are pitching them against some of their closest people. This can cause a feeling of resentment in the child for all these people who score better than them and because of whom they are being punished. 

This constant comparison and pressure to perform works negatively for the child and makes them feel insecure about their own performance and also causes low self-confidence, and self-doubt in their own abilities.

This persistent academic stress is taking a heavy toll on the mental health of the children. According to data, in 2018 there were about 1.3 lakh suicides in the country, and out of this 8% were students.

While academic strengths are undoubtedly essential for the success of children in school, it is important for parents to look beyond the academic strengths of their child. All children have different abilities that may not necessarily be reflected in their academic performance. Focusing solely on academic strengths can lead to neglecting and undervaluing other areas where the child may excel.

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We parents should take a step back and analyse why are we putting so much pressure on our children to perform academically. I am sure, the answer unanimously will be, so that our children are successful and have good careers in the future.

In the fast-changing technological advancements that we see today, children would require many more skills to thrive in the future world than just the perfect academic strengths that we concentrate on. These skills of the future are those that can assist the child in taking care of problems and responding to them in an effective manner.

So, it would be such a better idea to equip your child with all these skills of the future which would help them thrive. Because the future as we know it is going to be very different from what you and I as a parent know. With so much rapid development and mankind looking to colonise Mars, or some other deadlier pandemic coming our way, children need to be equipped with much more than just good academic grades to be successful and thriving.

The formula for success is multi-dimensional and not just one-dimensional. Being successful entails developing all powers of the child – physical, mental, emotional, social, moral, and spiritual, and not just scoring a good percentage. Just like if you wish to make good lemonade you would require lemons, water, sugar, and ice, and you cannot make it with just the lemons. In the same way, success requires other skills too rather than just academic performance or good percentage.

If you wish your child to be truly successful then focus on the overall development of the child, as there are many more indicators of success. Here are some areas where parents should focus on the development of the child as well:

Foster a sense of curiosity

Encouraging children to explore different interests can foster a sense of curiosity and a love of learning. Developing curiosity leads to children finding new ways to solve a problem. This leads to “out-of-the-box thinking”, which is a skill many employers look for these days. This will also help them develop a “Growth mindset”, which is essential for success in any area of life.

Unique talents and passion

Every child has some or other unique talents and passions that may not be related to academics. Focusing only on academics may cause parents to overlook these strengths, which can be a source of happiness and fulfillment for their children. And it is a known fact that a person who is happy and fulfilled ranks much higher on the success scale.

Developing life skills

Practical skills such as financial management, time management, organisation, and problem-solving are crucial for success in all aspects of life. Parents who focus solely on developing academic strengths may miss opportunities to help their children develop these important skills.

Development of social skills

Social skills such as empathy, communication, and collaboration are essential for success in life. A child who excels academically but lacks social skills may struggle to form meaningful interpersonal relationships, work in teams, and communicate effectively with others.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions and those of others. Children who are emotionally intelligent can navigate complex social situations, form healthy relationships, and make responsible decisions. While academic success can help build confidence, it doesn’t necessarily equate to emotional intelligence.
These days people who possess a high EQ or Emotional Quotient are in great demand and considered more employable than people who possess a high IQ or Intelligence Quotient. So, this is one skill that parents should consciously develop in their children.

Boost self-confidence

If a child is not strong academically, but has other talents, focusing on those areas can boost their self-confidence and self-esteem. Children who have confidence in their abilities can readily take on any adverse situation that they may ever face and the chances of their coming out of that situation successfully are also high.
Having high self-esteem can also help them feel valued and appreciated, which can have a positive impact on their mental health and overall well-being.

Pursuing personal interests

Children who are encouraged to pursue their interests and passions outside academics are more likely to be motivated, engaged, and fulfilled. Whether it’s music, sports, or arts, pursuing non-academic activities can help children develop a well-rounded sense of self and build skills like teamwork, and resilience that may not be fostered in the classroom.

Overall parents should aim to support their children in all areas of their lives, including academics, extracurricular activities, personal development, and personal interests. This can help children become well-rounded individuals who are equipped with a variety of skills and talents that will serve them well throughout their lives and help them navigate into the unknown future on their own successfully.

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The views expressed are that of the expert alone.

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