Q: My 10 year old child seems despondent, out of sorts and does not sleep well. She is involved in many activities including ballet, swimming and gymnastics lessons and plays piano and has pretty well everything that she wants. My husband and I both work hard to give her a better lifestyle and she still does not seem happy. Is she just spoiled or am I expecting too much?
A: Your daughter may very well be feeling under a great deal of stress. Parents recognize the high levels of stress that they are going through daily, but often do not realize their children’s stress. They are always in being hurried from one activity to another. They frequently eat meals in the car between activities. They are pushed to learn more and faster and to focus on grades. Parents, peers and the media all encourage children to grow up faster and to reach adult milestones sooner. The grade 6 public school graduation looks like an adult party. In order to give your daughter everything, you both work and you and your child do not see each other very much and when you do, there is not much time or energy to enjoy each other. You are stressed and your child feels that and picks it up, and becomes further stressed.
My suggestion is to try to cut down some of the extracurricular activities and simplify your child’s life somewhat. Spend more time sitting and talking and see if this reduces your stress and your child’s stress level. When you manage to reduce your daughter’s stress level, you may indeed find that that was the source of her discontent. If you would like further parenting advice, you may find it beneficial to seek counselling and learn some new techniques that might help you.