The media speak about a pushy parent as if they are something to avoid or be afraid of. There is certainly the lunatic fringe of the pushy parent brigade, the sort who put their children into those awful beauty contests or force them into learning Mandarin when they’d rather be watching Peppa Pig. Most of us who are proud to call ourselves pushy parents just want the best for our kids, and that they achieve their full potential. Being pushy can start from babyhood and is mostly about helping them with activities which will develop skills they need for later life.
Mother and baby swimming classes are hugely popular and even if your little one isn’t going to be the next Michael Phelps, swimming is a valuable life skill. Getting them in the water from a couple of months old gets them used to doing things like putting their faces in the water or being splashed, and in my personal experience children who have been taken swimming from an early age are more confident and quicker to learn to swim properly when they get older.
Perfectly pushy parents know that there is no point in forcing a child to do something they’re not ready for and teaching formal reading skills is best left to the teachers. However, it is a parent’s job to foster a love in books and it isn’t pushy in the slightest to read to your child every night, take them to the library, let them experience lots of different books and get them to talk about what is happening in the story. This will all stand them in good stead for starting school and learning to read.
Most parents teach their children to write their names before they start school and this is a good idea as long as you teach them to write in a mixture of upper and lower case letters and not just to print in block capitals. Writing skills can also be improved by getting them to work on their fine motor skills using games and toys which require small, intricate movements. Fill your toy shelves with Playdough, Lego, dot to dot books and wooden jigsaws. Doing jigsaws and putting together Lego models is fun, but also helps them get used to being precise in what they are doing.
A perfect pushy parent knows that a big part of school is getting along with others, and makes an effort to organise as many play dates and afternoons at the park with friends as possible. Children need to learn to share, take turns and when to do as they are told, and it’s not overly-pushy to make sure your kids start school equipped with these skills. Look for a good playgroup which will also push the child forward with their social skills and encourage them to develop a wide circle of friends rather than depending on one “best friend”. Children who are confident and outgoing will get far more out of the school experience than the shrinking violet who has never left their parent’s side.
Article by mother of three Morag Peers