Don’t we all remember the good old school days where we were pressurised by our parents to perform – whether it be academically, on the sports field or on the Eisteddfod stage. Things haven’t changed much if anything it has become a whole lot worse as there is an ongoing competition between parents whose little lamb is achieving the best results and being the stellar child they might have aspired to be.
The question remains – is it healthy to put so much pressure on children or not? There are two sides to this much-debated coin. As a parent, there are few pleasures greater than your child succeeding. However, if you are putting too much pressure on your children to do well, it can backfire severely and end up affecting them negatively in a number of different ways. They can lash out in various forms of bad behaviour and often develop an inferiority complex because they constantly feel that they are not good enough. It is of the utmost importance to let them know that you’re there for them and that a grade doesn’t determine whether or not they’re a good person.
Parents need to instil in their kids a foundational sense of self-worth. Without it, children who face pressure to succeed risk becoming defined by that activity and their ability to perform. Teenagers who are struggling to find their identity among their siblings or classmates may find a unique area of improvement and accomplishment in an activity such as a certain sport, musical instrument, or artistic performance, which causes their self-confidence to skyrocket.
But what does pushing too hard mean? At its best, getting children to do things that are challenging for them will teach them grit and flexibility while also expanding their sense of being streetwise and knowledge of the harsh world we live in. But at its worst, pushing children too far can cause them to retreat like an army of ten thousand men and become resentful or develop even greater anxiety about trying new things. It can be difficult to determine how much parental pressure on children is healthy and when you should back off.
Every day is different for everyone. That’s the reality. The ‘pushy’ approach can significantly affect an experience because the viewpoint is different than usual and avoids seeing down days as failures. Emphasis on the effort instead of winning must be taught and reiterated by parents. This is rarely a concept children figure out by themselves. Bravo to the ones who actually do and bravo to parents who find the divine balance!