Children no longer seem to be doing things because they enjoy it or have fun doing them. As parents we want the best for our children — the best defined by the school or college they attend as that will define their education, their personality and who they will eventually become. Right?

If that was truly the case then why are not all the students who graduate from the same Ivy League college or class leading equally successful and fulfilled lives?

Parents are enrolling their children for summer schools so that seven years down the line when they apply for university admissions it’ll look good on their application. So, sorry kids — no sleeping in late, playing with neighbours, watching endless movies or reading books cuddled in bed. We need to remember the checklist that will get you into an Ivy League college.

Even extra-curricular activities that are meant to be pursued by children for their passion has to have an “end benefit” linked to college admissions. If you are learning to play the piano, just stick to the curriculum and get your credits to make it count. If you are playing football, be part of the team so that your participation can make it count. If you sing, then oh don’t just sing for, be part of a band in school and perform on stage to make it count.

Childhood is no longer meant to be fun, chaotic, messy — it’s become a number game, where every activity you do needs to be awarded credits. Oh and make friends whose parents can get you a summer job — make it count.

Yet, parents want their children to have clarity around their goals. How can children — who are being boxed into one activity after another to pursue something so far in the distance, who are not allowed to follow their intuition, whose instincts are suppressed — then know how to look within to know what it is they truly want to pursue?

Your children are more than the school or college they graduate from. What determines their success and fulfilment in life are their experiences, values and life skills they imbibe along the way, and their childhood plays a huge part in that development — a childhood which is carefree, messy, full of fights and failures. Enrolling them into the “make it count” game too early on will make them miss out on their childhood.

This is an interactive column on parenting skills and child behaviour. If you have a query, write to

Sunaina Vohra is a certified Youth and Family Life Coach at Athena Life Coaching in Dubai. For more information log on to or call (+971) 56-1399033.