Dubai: It’s back to school and the period is as much of a relearning process for students as it is for parents. The responsbility of ensuring the child journeys through another school year not just focused on good grades but also on self-development is an important one and parents need to give both aspects equal attention, say experts.

“Self-development is the grooming of the child in multiple areas of personal perception and appropriate behaviours related to the situations,” says Dr Muhammad Tahir, General, Child Adoloscent Psychiatrist, American Wellness Centre Dubai.

Qualities such as empathy, responsibility, imagination, creativity, spirit of enquiry, curiosity, compassion, generosity are not standard-issue curriculum components but they are important assets for children to develop as they advance into adulthood, according to experts.

The usual need for parents to encourage their children to study is good, but it must be remembered that “Education is for them, they are not for education,” says Dr Tahir.

“Personal development plays a major part and comes from the home environment, the neighbourhood and also from school socialisation so vigilant parents usually pay attention and accordingly, encourage or discourage behaviours,” says Dr Tahir.

Amrican child behavioural experts Ken Robinson, author “You, Your Child and School: Navigate Your Way to the Best Education’ and Ted Dintersmith, author of “What Schools Could Be’, say many parents ask them what questions they should be asking of themselves as their child returns to another school year. Some of the questions they suggest are: ‘In what ways will my child’s learning be connected to the real world?’ ‘To what extent will my child be setting their own goals?’ ‘What skills and mind-set should my child be developing during this school year? and ‘What is the school’s approach to ensuring a healthy and supportive environment for children?’

Parents also need to ask themselves if they want their child to be a creative problem solver, a good communicator, to be able to work on a team, figure out complicated, ambiguous problems, say the authors.

Parents should make their own list for the back-to-school phase, they suggest.

One way parents can find the balance between ensuring personal development and academic diligence for their children, says Dr Tahir, is to “help them understand a subject rather than memorise it without an understanding. Parents should help their child apply what they are taught in daily life and reward them for doing so.

“Effective communication, tolerance and patience [in a child] comes with real-time practice and not by just memorising certain behaviours and their consequences. It is hard and usually not taught as a course,” he says.

How to spot if your child is too focused on studies and is not developing in other ways?

If they are spending too much time alone studying.

They are obsessed with always being the No. 1.

They are missing out on important social events.

They avoid playtime and fun activities.

Have no friends and do not spend time with family.

What signs should parents watch out for when a child is lagging behind in personal development?

Eating and sleeping disturbances.

Falling grades.

Staying late out at night.

Too many late nights on the phone.

Hiding things from parents.

Constantly checking on friends’ groups and their conversation on What’sapp.

Experiencing peer pressure

Too many complaints about friends.

Asking for too much money or stealing.


Why over-emphasis on extra-curricular activities is counterproductive.

They are taking up too much time and starting to affect academic studies.

They are making the child feel tired and at time, are making the child develop a sense of duty towards the activity rather than enjoy it.

Develop unhealthy competitiveness and become obsessed with winning by book or by crook.

It’s taking up too much time and money of parents who feel like they have to do it for their child because child’s friends are doing it.

Source: Dr Mohammad Tahir