Family life

The dangers of hyper-education

We spoke with Stephanie Deslauriers, psychoeducator and author of several books, the most recent being The joys of being an imperfect parent (French).

What is hyper-education?

More and more widespread, the phenomenon of hyper-education is explained by parents who, often unconsciously, stimulate their children to an extreme and require a high level of performance. Between school, sports and recreational activities, the child no longer has free time. This desire is initiated by parents who often want more than the child themselves.

"Parents often tend to fill their children's schedules as they do with theirs," explains Stéphanie Deslauriers. "But it's not necessary to do the same," she adds.

This behaviour is often due to performance anxiety. Their child's success is a way for them to be reassured that they are doing a good job as parents. "Parents put a lot on their children’s shoulders and do not want to make mistakes," says the psychoeducator. "I see a lot of judgment between parents. When we say that a child is badly raised, we quickly blame the parent."

She reminds us that all week long, at daycare or at school, the child's time is structured to the minute. There is no room for improvisation. So once the week is over, there is nothing wrong with doing nothing.

"Parents need to feel guilty about not always being in play and fun mode with their kids. Going to the grocery store or doing the housework is a strain that is part of life and it's good to get them involved,"  says the mother.

"Learning to do nothing and being bored helps to develop autonomy and a certain resourcefulness in the child. It allows them to discover what they really like," she comments.

How to know when it's too much?

When the will of the parent is greater than that of the child, it is a first sign. You have to respect their interests first and foremost. If the child no longer enjoys doing an activity, do not push it. You have to listen to the signals and do not hesitate to question them about their interest in playing such a sport or playing such a musical instrument.

If the practice of their activities has an impact on the rest of the family and you feel that you are neglecting another child because of the activity of the other, it is perhaps too busy. If the child finishes their. homework or sport very late at night and the sleep time is compromised, it is too much. Children's energy is not an inexhaustible resource. According to the psychoeducator, playing a sport twice a week is enough for the majority of young people.

Manifestations in children

Hyper-education can manifest as a loss of motivation or a sudden change in behavior. If you feel at some point that you do not recognize your child, it is a warning sign.

As parents, these signs must be taken very seriously. If your child has a headache, stomach ache, or vomiting at times, he or she is probably experiencing too much stress.

Sometimes the child can hide their stress because they do not want to displease their parents. “If a child is “too perfect”, for me, they’re hiding something," says Stéphanie Deslauriers. "A child who never questions their parents, who never opposes instructions, is not normal. It's part of their development. "

Open the discussion with them to find out if this or that activity makes them really happy and ask yourself if it's their desire or yours. Parent's awareness is the first step to help their child.

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