What it takes for children to grow into happy adults

Generation Z and their struggles

Generation Z could be smarter, more ambitious, and more creative than any other generation. The digital era has enabled people from all over the world to connect and share information faster than ever. So humans born in this environment, it's inevitable for them to apprehend skills and information faster than ever and to learn to leverage that advantage.

Generation Z is also pushed harder to perform than previous generations. Being pushed also means that they’re more likely to develop depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Nowadays, high performance is a standard that kids are taught to achieve at any cost, even at the cost of their happiness.

Schools still measure and monitor their students continuously, with their attendance and scores. And pressure to perform better continues with skills and jobs later in life. As this race starts from their first days and doesn’t stop, the pressure and anxiety build up to a point where some children simply can’t cope.

Sadly that's the scenario when young people can turn to presecription or illicit drugs as an emotional crutch, and that can be a very slippery slope towards addiction.

Generation Z and their struggles with constant pressure to excel and succeed.

1. Exams and scores are important, but emotional literacy is more important.

2. We should see kids for who they are, and tailor the educational system to their own talents.

3. Creativity declines with age, so nurture it while the mind is still young.

So what does it take for children to grow into happy adults? - Children should be taught that emotional intelligence is more important than test scores.

Growing up, schools have taught children that test scores measure their cognitive capabilities. They also taught them that exams are definitory for their future success. Grades, school merits, and academic success remain universal metrics for analyzing pupils and students.

However, this leaves very little time for hobbies, going out with friends, or just being a kid in between. Instead, many of us pressure children into taking part in a continuously competitive environment. Environments where they must strive for perfection in all areas of life and experience a kind of constant pressure.

On top of that, the social media influence leaves no room for reality, and it forces young kids and teenagers to grow up faster than they normally would to fit in with adult expectations. As a result, Gen' Z is more stressed, anxious, and depressed than ever.

A study conducted on children revealed that parents tend to raise them as products rather than humans and so kids don't learn how to be empathic, form meaningful relationships or handle mistakes and stress. In other words, they lack basic life skills, and most importantly, they don’t allow their own personality to develop.

The solution is simple: Teaching the new generation emotional literacy and building on their emotional intelligence so that they know how to handle it when they face life's challenges. Moreover, we should eliminate the continuous pressure of high performance, as it builds frustration in those who struggle in school.

A system that can build skills based on innate talents will create more successful people.

We all have different sets of skills and talents that help us navigate through life. Essentially, that is what helps humanity survive and evolve. Unfortunately, however, it seems that the current educational system fails to adapt to one’s unique characteristics. Therefore, it fails to raise capable people that can hold their own in society.

American psychologist, Martin Seligman, founding father of positive psyochology, suggests that the key to happiness is self- confidence. To build it, one has to focus on their unique strengths. As a parent, this should be a priority in the process of educating children. Building the identity of a child based on their innate skills and talents dramatically increases self-confidence.

A person who receives assurance that they are good at what they are doing will be more motivated to keep on building their life and career around their skills. A proven formula for happiness.

Sadly, today’s educational system relies too much on memory skills, which is something that not all children possess equally. Then, it measures success based on academic credentials instead of a range of skills, activities, and personal traits that denote emotional intelligence.

An innovative mindset is something specific to children, and it fades rapidly once they grow up.

Children tend to be fascinated when they are discovering. Their curiosity often pushes them to learn more and more every day, get out of their comfort zone and pursue new activities. Essentially, these are some of the most sought-after skills today.

So why do people lose them as they grow up? Psychologists studied how children tend to have their creative skills progressively fade as schools and adults expose them to standardized tests and receiving rewards for successfully completing tasks like exams.

As a result of these practices, we teach children that we don’t appreciate their curiosity and finding new ways to do things. This leads to an unlearning process, where children develop nervousness about creativity, curiosity, and demonstrating an open-ended mindset.

Moreover, the rewards that come after completing tasks they are being told to complete stimulates a cause-and-effect action. Good grades get you to a good college. A good college gets you a good job, and so on. There is no room for interpretation in the life scenarios they are being exposed to, so as an effect, there is no reason to look for newer alternatives.

The highly challenging environment to which today’s children are constantly being exposed 

Unfortunately, this 2builds up frustration, stress, and high- performance anxiety, leaving little to no room to enjoy a creative childhood and discover their innate abilities. 

Understanding how to mitigate 21st-century traps is critical for every concerned parent and citizen who wants to be part of a positive change and become a better role model for young people to help them cope with the demands of the digital era and pursue a life doing what they love.

How parents can make a positive impact on their children's development and lives

We should temper the pressure of high academic credentials and strike a balance between pure academic assessments and developing key life skills. One of the programs at Skills Studio focuses on teaching parents how they can make a positive impact on their children's development and lives. Education focuses on knowledge and testing rather than teaching children emotional literacy and strengthening their emotional intelligence so they know how to face challenges in their life. 

About the Author:

Greg Twemlow is a Sydney-based Social Enterprise Founder | Startup Mentor | CEO | Writer | Speaker | Designer at the Skills Studio

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