Parent Resource

Gear Pressure

by Harrison Hodgkins, Intern & Experience Engineer, DCschoolHUB

I’d like to think I was an involved, active student. My time in high school included juggling the responsibilities of being the secretary of my band’s leadership council and first chair tenor saxophone, a retreat team leader, a soccer player, and a guitar teacher. I thought I was doing a lot. But now, I often hear of kids in middle school and even elementary school participating in four or five activities at the same time. On top of that, they need the best “stuff” to be at the top of their game. What’s driving it all is what I call Gear Pressure – the pressure to keep up with that Harvard-seeking family, the uber-involved Jones, while using the best instruments, the top coaches, and the latest gear.

Having an array of activities is great, but kids need time throughout the week to relax and have fun with family and friends, to actually be a kid. In some cases, the kid wants to be heavily involved, but many of us are familiar with the parents that are pushing them too fast, too soon, and too much. Sometimes the kid’s desire to be heavily involved really stems from the parents. As I see one parent load up the trunk of her SUV with the mountain of gear the kids will need that afternoon/evening, it all strikes me as too much, and I think the kids don’t even realize the usefulness of relaxing at home a few days of the week.

Today, I still experience the feeling of Gear Pressure, but it didn’t really start until high school and with the activities that I loved doing. Because I was originally allowed to explore and choose what I wanted to do, with the bottom line being “get involved” only, I enjoy those activities that I had felt pressure to start, whether from peers (who both wanted to hang out with me and set the standard for involvement) or parents (who wanted me to be well-balanced). This leads me to believe that the kid’s enjoyment of all his/her activities is essential to a wholesome childhood. With that, I think parents of younger children can still every once in a while let their kids be kids, who enjoy watching movies or hanging out at the park or playing Xbox, and look to help their kids not crack under the stress of Gear Pressure.