The Perils of Over-planning: Why Young Mums Should Avoid Being Tiger Mums

by Rahim Said

One morning over breakfast, a young mum shared her meticulously crafted life plan for her seven-year-old son and five-year-old daughter. Her days are packed with tuition, golf lessons, dance classes, tennis, language courses, and the list goes on. She asked us whether she was doing the right thing.

While it is natural to want the best for our children, it is also essential to recognise the dangers of overloading them with activities and pressure at an early age.

Here is some advice for young mums on how to avoid becoming a tiger mum and the potential consequences of this approach:

  1. Children Need Time to Be Children
    Childhood is a unique and fleeting period meant for exploration, play, and discovery. Filling every moment with structured activities robs children of the opportunity to use their imagination, develop social skills, and learn organically through play.
  2. The Importance of Downtime
    Just like adults, children need downtime to relax and recharge. Overloading their schedules can lead to burnout, anxiety, and a dislike for the very activities that are supposed to enrich their lives. Ensure there is ample time for your kids to unwind and enjoy unstructured play.
  3. Encourage, Don’t Pressure.
    Support your children’s interests and encourage them to explore new activities, but avoid imposing your own aspirations on them. Pay attention to their preferences and enthusiasm. If they show a passion for a particular activity, provide opportunities for them to pursue it, but do not force them into a rigid schedule.
  4. Focus on Emotional and Social Development
    Academic and extracurricular achievements are important, but so is emotional and social development. Children need to learn how to manage their emotions, build relationships, and develop resilience. These skills are often best learned through everyday interactions and unstructured play rather than through organised activities.
  5. Quality Over Quantity
    It is not the number of activities that matter, but the quality of experience they provide. Choose a few activities that your children genuinely enjoy and can benefit from, rather than filling their schedule with numerous classes.
  6. Foster a Love for Learning
    Instilling a lifelong love for learning is more important than achieving short-term goals. Encourage curiosity and a growth mindset, where children feel safe to make mistakes and learn from them. This approach will serve them well throughout their lives.
  7. Be a Role Model
    Children often mimic the behaviour of their parents. Show them a balanced life where work, play, and rest coexist harmoniously. Demonstrate how to manage stress and prioritise well-being.
  8. Listen to Your Children
    Keep open lines of communication with your children. Listen to their concerns, interests, and feelings about their activities. This will help you understand what they enjoy and what might be causing them stress.
  9. The Dangers of Overloading
    Overloading children with activities can lead to negative outcomes such as anxiety, depression, and a lack of motivation. It can also strain your relationship with your children, making them feel like they are constantly being evaluated rather than supported.
  10. Balance is Key
    Strive for a balanced approach to parenting. Ensure that your children have time for structured activities, free play, family time, and rest. This balance will help them grow into well-rounded, happy individuals.

In conclusion, while it is commendable to want the best for your children, it is also crucial to strike a balance. Allow them the freedom to explore, play, and develop at their own pace.

Remember, the ultimate goal is to raise happy, healthy, and well-adjusted individuals, not just high achievers. By stepping back and giving them space to grow, you will be fostering an environment where they can truly thrive.

Dr. Rahim Said is a human behaviourist and regular contributor on digital media platforms. He is a professional management consultant, a corporate trainer and an executive coach specialising in coaching of senior executives and individual entrepreneurs with the purpose of modifying their behaviour in the pursuit of their cherished missions. (The views expressed by our columnist are entirely his own)