February 1983

The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Fast Too Soon

Author Affiliations

University of Rochester Medical Center 601 Elmwood Ave Rochester, NY 14642


by David Elkind, 210 pp, $6.95, Reading, Mass, Addison-Wesley Publishing Co, 1981.

Am J Dis Child. 1983;137(2):190-191. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1983.02140280082034

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In this provocative book, David Elkind explores many of the expectations and experiences that contemporary children must face. In so doing, he develops a persuasive argument that parents, schools, and the media are increasingly placing their own needs above the needs of children and, thus, are failing to recognize the "special estate" that children deserve. Because they are vulnerable to pressures to hurry and grow up—too fast, too soon—children experience stress as they have "unusual demands for adaptation" placed on them. The author further contends that stress leads to such symptoms as free-floating anxiety, type A behavior, school burnout, and learned helplessness. Elkind also aptly notes that stress can strengthen some children: "the boiling water that hardens the egg softens the carrot."

Weighing the beneficial v the detrimental effects of stress on children does not seem to be a central issue in this book. Rather, the author focuses on the