Hurried Child Syndrome

Are children today being rushed into adulthood?

What is Hurried Child Syndrome?

Hurried Child Syndrome is an idea that was brought forth by psychologist David Elkind in his book, "The Hurried Child", which was published in 1981. Elkind believes that due to different ideals and societal expectations, children are being forced to grow up at an earlier age. There are many ways in which this is occurring. The one at the forefront of his studies is parents over scheduling their children in honors programs, sports, and activities. Parents are not spending time with their children or allowing their children to just simply be kids. Instead, these parents are signing their kids up for a full load of activities that their child doesn't even necessarily want to be a part of.

How Added Stress is Affecting Our Children.

Alcohol abuse and drug use is on an upward climb. A recent study says that 70% of girls will not be virgins by the time they leave their teen years. 40% of these girls will become pregnant. About 10% of girls were sexually active in 1960. 5,000 teens commit suicide each year and those are just the ones who succeed. For every suicide completion, there are dozens more attempts. These teens are blaming their parents and society and the problem is just getting worse and worse. Parents are starting to hurry their children earlier and earlier. Starting their babies on programs to make them the smartest or the most talented. Many parents do this because they are stressed about their own lives and they wish to pass on the stress to someone else. Parents seem to forget that children need to be children, they must allow them to be.


The largest concern about the hurrying of children and the over scheduling of them is that this can cause them to begin internalizing their feelings. They are beginning to keep secret their depression and self-esteem issues. The most common physical symptoms for depression may not be noticeable by anyone other than the child. They include stomach ache, diarrhea, nervous twitches, headache, hyperactivity, stutter, muscle tension, and bed-wetting.

Survey Results for Hurried Child Syndrome

In a nationally representative survey, only one quarter of children were “hurried” and half were focused on a single activity. 15% of children had no activities. Children with mothers with more education and higher incomes were generally more busy. Middle class families are the most likely to over schedule their children. One cause of the rise in activity level for children is simply that there are more activities available for them. The participation in sports between the years 1981 and 1997 rose by 35 percent and the participation in the arts rose by 145 percent.

Were Children of the Past Less Stressed than Today's Kids?

Children of the past were very carefree compared to children today. They had a lot of time to be outside and play games, even as teenagers their biggest worry was who they would ask to the prom. They didn’t have to worry about nervous breakdowns. These days, parents are over scheduling their children. Many teens are now medicated with antidepressants, suicides are on the rise, obesity can be found everywhere. Children are being forced to grow up sooner, even become sexier as preteens. Children are even abandoning their toys at a younger age, moving on to videogames and computer games. Children are becoming very influenced by the entertainment industry. Children are missing out on family and play time which helps them to grow. This is hurting them, not helping them. Kids are so stressed these days, they can’t keep achieving and achieving all the time. Children find themselves no longer trying to achieve for themselves, but for others. Parents are trying to live through their children. They push them to achieving to make up for what they didn’t do. Parents depend on their children for self worth, as a badge of merit for themselves. Parents are manipulating their kids lives so much that the kids are just shutting down. They aren’t happy, they have no natural curiosity. Children should be allow to play, grow at their own age.