‘Perfect is the enemy of the good!’
One study shows that the main things which parents value for their children are achievements and kindness. They believe that these characteristics play a vital role in their kids’ school grades as well as in their adjustment to others and the life itself. But, when researchers compared the scores in the study with children’s behavior and success in school, they concluded that the crucial thing which hinders kids to gain improvement – their parents’ criticism.
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Parenting is a beautiful thing, but if you are honest, you will admit that it is not always like that. You can expect that your sweet baby grows up and becomes a unique personality prepared to lie to you, ready not to hear your, and willing to believe everyone except you who gave her birth.
On the other hand, you probably almost never re-examine yourself as a parent. Have you ever asked your child regarding your own unrealistic expectations about her and her achievements? Nope? Let’s try. I am pretty sure that your kid’s answer will be – You are guilty on all charges!
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. As every parent on the earth, you want a better life for your child than you had, but you probably cross the line too often with unachievable high standards.
1 – Demanding the kid to be perfect in school
It is natural for every parent to want their child to be the best possible student, but you should accept your child’s limitations. Every kid has different interests and learns things differently. Try to guide your sweetie, not punish her because she may trouble with learning. And, please, don’t compare your and her success at school especially if you were a better student than she is. Such pressure isn’t a solution to the issue and actually never brings anything good.
2 – Demanding the kid to be grateful ‘for what you have given her’
It is OK that a child is grateful, but demanding her to be thankful for the smallest thing you have given her is pretty unreasonable. It is natural that a parent puts the child’s needs before their own and your kid is probably aware of your sacrifices and affords. However, it doesn’t mean that you have rights to put pressure on her every single day.
For example, just because you are in the same room doesn’t mean she is obliged to talk to you even though she works something else at that particular moment. Why should she be grateful for your presence? What does the lack of her desire for a chatting have with the fact that you provide her with lunch?
You also find such behavior weird as you read these lines, right? Just try to remember how often you were in a situation to request your child’s gratitude for something you have done because you are a parent? Yes, I hate to admit it too.
3 – Demanding the kid is always in a good mood
I know that you work hard all day long ‘for your ungrateful child’, but expecting that she can meet you with a smile and in a good mood every afternoon is a little bit unrealistic, isn’t it?
Your child has every right to have bad days as you have. Maybe she has had an arguing with a school-mate, the best friend, the other parent, or a teacher. Perhaps she wasn’t prepared for a class; her ‘first love’ dates the most beautiful girl in school, and so on. There is a bunch of different issues which may seem unimportant and ridiculous for you, but they certainly affect your child’s emotional state.
Keep in mind that she is your child regardless of her current mood. Try to talk and support. On the other hand, you should pay attention if your kid is always in a bad mood. It can be a worrying sign that something is wrong. Don’t miss the real problem while you constantly have new and new demands for her.
4 – Demanding the kid to do what you say, not what you do
The fact is that your child will learn more from what you do, not what you say because you are a role model for your dearest one. Asking a child to do something which you don’t respect yourself leads only to argue. You can’t teach her to be honest if you lie to her or other people. You can’t expect her to be physically active if you sit in front of the TV all day. You can’t expect her to eat healthy if you eat only fast food and snacks. I believe we understand each other.
Why Parents Pressure Their Kids
- There are a few reasons why parents make too hard pressure on their children and feel fear of every mistake they make. I will list some of them here:
- You may believe that the only way your child can succeed is to do what everyone else does
- You may respect the rules imposed by society such as – get excellent grades in school and at college, get a good job, marry someone who is ‘on your level’, spend an average life, and be satisfied
- You may care about what other people will say and think
- You are probably afraid of taking a risk and child’s possible failing. Maybe you can’t realize that failure will define who your child is and help her to find adequate solutions in her life
Signs You are Putting Too Much Pressure on Your Child
- You make all the decisions without any will to make compromises even though your child needs to have the right to her own choices
- You ignore your child’s reasons for refusing to meet your requirements
- You try to fit into your kid’s daily activities too much
- You continually argue with your partner about what you expect from your child without asking her how she feels
- Your child has very little spare time because she is over-scheduled
- You always try to find fault with your child’s achievements and almost always give negative feedbacks
- You regularly feel angry when your child doesn’t meet your expectations especially at school
- You control every aspect of your child’s life which is OK while your kid is very young, but you should understand that she will demand more and more independence over time
- You demand perfection and refuse to let your kid learn life lessons by making mistakes on her own
You constantly compare your child to other children, which is the sure way to make your child feels insecure and unworthy
Identify Signs That Your Child Is Under Excessive Pressure
Every expert can give you a list of signs and effects of parental pressure on a child including troubles with sleeping, losing the appetite, bad grades in school, and so on. That’s nice, but the question is – Are you able to notice the subtle, sneaky, often misinterpreted signs which indicate that your child is plain tired of your pressure? Let’s see.
1 – Your kid refuses to talk about her feelings
Pay more attention to the behavior of your child when she returns from school. Does she just throw her stuff on the floor, go to her room, and start to watch TV or play video games without a word?
Sometimes you may notice that her answers are short and grumpy when you try to talk to her. She refuses too often to think about the homework or training and seems irritated at your questions.
That silence is her way to show that she is tired of the demands and stress. Believe me; it is the moment when you need to retreat. Be smart and don’t cross the limit of pressure that your child can withstand and submit.
2 – Your child looks for reasons to get away
When your child feels that the pressure is too hard, she will probably try to find the way out. Let her rest and gather strength to continue. In your desire to help your kid, you can push her too hard and get an unsatisfied and tired child when she only needs a little break to strengthen in her way of success.
3 – Your child doesn’t want to improve
As soon as school or training is over, your child runs away as quickly as possible. She refuses every your suggestion about extra activities. She wants to relax without pressure and any stress because she is probably sick and tired of being forced to do what you want her to do.
4 – Your child pushes too hard
Don’t be satisfied if you notice that your child is obsessed with improving her success. You as a parent need to make a difference between dedication and obsession. There is a clear line between the healthy desire to become better and being obsessed because of the fear of failing and feeling that she is not good enough.
5 – Your child begins to behave badly
If the child feels pressure from her parent, she can begin to do unethical things. For instance, if you demand your kid has the highest grades in school, but she feels that she can’t achieve your expectations, don’t be surprised if she decides to cheat on an exam in order to fulfill imposed obligation. Not to mention a possibility that your child can turn to alcohol and (or) drugs to reduce accumulated stress.
Putting Too Much Pressure on a Child Can Harm Her
At the moment you overdo with pressure, you can expect:
1 – Refusing to engage – When a child assesses that she can’t always be the best she will refuse to participate. Unfortunately, that usually means that she won’t take the opportunity to improve her skills and achieve her maximum potential.
2 – Problems with self-respect – Putting too much pressure on a child will damage her self-esteem in the most cases because she can feel like she is not good enough.
3 – Problems with poor self-image – The usual result of parental ‘over-managing’ the child’s life is undermining of her self-confidence, general poor self-image, depression, and decreasing of her satisfaction with life.
4 – The tendency to cheating – When a child understand that her commitment and learning is not valued and that the achievement is only important, she can decide that the cheating is her only option.
5 – Increased risk of injuries – A child who is engaged in sports can keep training despite injuries if she is under the parental pressure. Every ignoring pain and unhealed injury can lead to permanent physical damage.
6 – Sleep deprivation – Constant pressure on a child to achieve top results at school will result in her decision to spend more time learning and to go to sleep later. It can lead to insomnia and permanent sleep disorders.
7 – Collapse under too much parental pressure – Exaggerated stress and anxiety will lead to various physical and mental problems including withdrawing from family and friends, loss of interest in favorite hobbies, excessive worrying, nightmares, eating disorders, headaches, stomachaches, rashes, diarrhea, and so on.
8 – The occurrence of mental illness – A child can feel depression, constant anxiety under persistent pressure and high amounts of stress. In severe cases, a kid is at significant risk for mental illness development.
9 – Increased risk of suicidal ideations – Unreasonable parental pressure is connected with suicidal ideations which can appear in a child’s mind. Do you know that approximately one in five students thinks about suicide occasionally as a result of the enormous parental pressure to get exceptional grades?
Reducing Pressure: What Parents Can Do
1 – When you are getting upset – Every time you are angry and (or) depressed if your child fails to meet expectations you have for her regardless of whether it is about school or a sport, have a second thought. Maybe she did her best at that particular moment or just had a bad day. Perhaps you should consider your expectations and try to support and love your child who has her limitations or different interests. Talk to her. Maybe she needs your help with difficult school lessons. Support and positive feedback can help in the way that no pressure can.
2 – When your child feels overscheduled – Maybe it is time to stop and make priorities for your child. Talk with her and find a way to make some compromises. Don’t be one of the high-pressure parents who believe that it is necessary for their children to be involved in various activities all the time. Let your kid be – the kid. She needs to have some obligations, but she deserves spare time too. Let her play, relax, and spend time with friends. This is the best way for her to be ready for all tasks which wait for her.
3 – When you insist on making all the decisions – Remember, it is possible just for the limited period while your child is very young. Later, she becomes an individual who wants to make her own decisions. Of course, she can’t decide about everything, but she really has the right to choose what to wear or about school bag’s color, for example. Moreover, making simple decisions, your child will practice how to make independent and healthy choices in life.
4 – When you automatically give negative feedback – Pay attention to your reactions when you don’t approve something that your child does or achieves. If your child is proud to have done something, don’t react like – You could do it better. Try to be happy with her and praise her. She simply doesn’t deserve that unhealthy message you send to her. After a while, you can talk to her and help her to find a way to do the same thing better next time.
5 – Be a positive parent – Help your child does well in school by encouraging her rather than making pressure. The key words are:
- Self-observation – Think and review if your interaction with your kid is one-sided or your child has the right to have a different opinion.
- Interaction – Spend time with your kid. Use the time when you play and laugh together to build a relationship full of trust. Any advice you give her during that time won’t be accepted as an obligation and will help you to strengthen your kid’s personality.
- Encouragement – It is the primary step for every child on her way to success. Let her accept failure and teach her how to fix it the next time she gets the opportunity.
6 – Seek help – If you see that you do something in a wrong way but can’t help yourself, ask for professional advice. Counselors and psychologists and trained to identify possible negative patterns in your behavior and they can help you correct them.
Encouraging achievement in itself is not bad at all, but it can become destructive when it crosses to the criticism without respect of child’s fundamental goals necessary for her personal growth, community well-being, and interpersonal connections. It is especially important for kids in high achieving communities and schools where they feel pressure to become top-notch across various academic or sports activities from their earliest years.
Basically, you as a parent should find a way how to make your expectations reasonable and avoid pushing your child to succeed at the expense of close relationships with others. The more you encourage your child’s success with decency and kindness, the more likely it is that your dearest one will do well.
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