중앙데일리

Parents fear coddling kids leads to maladjusted life

Jan 31,2015
Ms. Jeong has never let her 11-year-old son use public transportation alone. Each day, she drives him to his hagwon, a private academy, and his grandmother accompanies him whenever he needs to use a bus or a taxi.

The youngster rarely does his homework alone, either. Instead, Jeong does most of it by finding materials online, and her son finishes up, adding comments afterward.

“My son ran for class president two years ago but lost the election,” she said. “Since then, I haven’t suggested that he run for another election because I’m afraid he’s going to be disappointed again.”

But Jeong began to reconsider her disciplinary style after seeing reports in early January about a father in Seoul who murdered his wife and two daughters after losing his job.

Many experts argue that overprotected children may give up more easily as adults when faced with conflict or difficulties. [JoongAng Photo]
“[Reading] the interview with the man’s mother shocked me when she said, ‘My son grew up without knowing hardship in life,’” Jeong said.

Most people would agree that it’s natural for parents to protect their children. But many also find themselves struggling to find a balance and may worry that their children may be more apt to give up when they encounter difficulties in life if they are too coddled in their youth.

Many child education experts warn that parents who raise sheltered children may see that they grow up to be maladjusted adults and struggle to rebound from conflict or failure.

Doing too much, such as a child’s homework, can also be detrimental, they add.

“Self-determination is formed by experiencing failure while growing up,” said Kim Young-hun, a professor in the department of pediatrics at the Catholic University of Korea. “They won’t learn how to cope with difficult situations if they grow in such an overprotected environment despite the parents’ good intentions.”

Kim Yu-jeong, a mother of two, agrees. “I think it is more important to raise a kid to be independent rather than teaching them how to study,” she said. “So I try to come up with good ideas on how to raise my kids.”

Kim Hee-jin, a professor in the early childhood education department at Ewha Womans University, said that although achieving success is important to foster a positive sense of self, many Korean parents fail to allow their children to experience setbacks, which are essential to growth.

Despite many parents’ reluctance to minimize their intervention in their children’s lives, taking a step back is crucial, experts say.

Others contend that educating children on finance is also beneficial, and that it is important to have them manage an allowance to develop financial responsibility.

“When kids grow up, they won’t be as desperate to get a job if it seems they won’t be as well off compared to living with their parents,” said Prof. Kim Young-hun. “It is important to plant that sense of responsibility in them and adjust the amount of their allowance.”

Kim also suggested introducing small conflicts in daily life - a parent should refrain from blindly buying their child a toy, for instance, or limit their time in front of the television to instill self-control. Additionally, parents should allow their children to participate in age-appropriate activities to breed responsibility.

“For children just starting kindergarten, allow them to start bathing themselves. Or give elementary school children errands to run,” Kim said. “In the U.S. or Europe, parents have their kids clean the yard or take out the trash to develop a sense of responsibility.”

BY KIM SUNG-TAK AND KIM KI-HWAN [ypc3c@joongang.co.kr]




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