hurried child syndrome

hurried child syndrome
(HUR.eed chyld SIN.drum, -drohm)
A condition in which parents overschedule their children's lives, push them hard for academic success, and expect them to behave and react as miniature adults.
hurried child n.
Example Citation:
No parent wants to yell at children all the time, so my husband and I go to work and let the sitter do it. To avoid the dreaded hurried child syndrome, we avoid scheduling activities every day, so the children have some time to read, play, do homework and torture one another. Each has no more than two extracurricular activities a week.
— Roberta Zeff, "When the Clock Strikes Summer," The New York Times, June 2, 2002
Earliest Citation:
Some of the younger pupils score high on the [SAT] even without studying the elementary algebra and geometry that the SAT math test employs. "They have better analytical ability than many of the older kids," Stanley said, "who just apply what they have overlearned."
But Jay Roudebush, principal of the middle school at Sidwell Friends in Northwest Washington, said he often discourages parents from letting their children take the test.
"There's the hurried-child syndrome, and we're concerned about that," Roudebush said. "We feel our children are subject to enough academic pressure without increasing it."
— Lawrence Feinburg, "Grade Schoolers Taking College Placement Tests," The Washington Post, January 28, 1984
The concept of the hurried child was first proposed by child psychologist David Elkind in his now-classic 1981 book The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Fast.
One symptom of the hurried child syndrome is forcing pre-school children to constantly take classes and perform other "enrichment" exercises to help them prepare for school. This is also called hothousing (1985) and the superbaby syndrome (1983).
At first blush, all of this seems like not such a bad thing. After all, shouldn't parents help their kids do the best they can and lead varied, interesting lives? Many psychologists and sociologists say the problem is that hurried children don't get much of a childhood. Their lives are fully scheduled and their parents place unrealistic demands on them to do well in school and in extracurricular activities. That's bad enough, but there are also indications that pushing kids too hard, too early can lead to big problems down the road. Psychologists point to disturbing trends such as the tripling of the U.S. teen suicide rate since 1980; kids in elementary school suffering from stomach problems and depression; and the alarming number of children diagnosed with attention deficit disorder in recent years.
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