With smart phones, social media and constant internet we’re aware more than ever of the lives, accomplishments and achievements of friends and colleagues. For many of us this can lead to an increasing sense that we too need to achieve and accomplish more, and this can trickle down to our children.
While being invested in your child’s success is a critical part of being a parent, setting high expectations and adding pressure on top can have a negative impact. It’s all about balance – while you’re not going to stand by idly while your child flunks maths, you can’t ignore it when they achieve exam success in history. The key is to be your child’s biggest fan and nurturer, to act as a ‘supporter’ rather than a ‘pusher’.”
Are you more of a ‘pusher’ than ‘supporter’? Here are 5 signs to look out for with solutions:
Do you feel anxious, mad or depressed when your child fails to meet your expectations in school or a sport? To put all of your energy into ensuring your child succeeds leaves no time to take care of your own emotional needs.
Solution: Reclaim your favorite pastimes and passions. You’ll always give your all to your family but you deserve as much attention. Part of being a good parent is being a good role model and showing your child that you partake in things you love doing. You can also show them how you work hard to achieve and how good it makes you feel about yourself.
This doesn’t mean you can’t take an active role in helping your child with his education. Schedule time for yourself around when they need your help the most. Sit with your child while they do their homework and ask them to share with you what they are learning. Show your interest, rather than be their ‘boss’, and help them learn to learn through positive feedback to develop a strong school work ethic.
Fighting With Your Partner
There are numerous subjects a husband and wife can argue about – but when the tiffs too often turn into battles over your child’s success, it’s unhealthy for everyone. The high-pressure parent will blame his or her spouse for not putting enough pressure on the kids to get better grades. If your child is above average in school, participates in activities and has friends but you still think it is not enough, you have high-pressure parent issues.
Solution: Think teamwork. It’s natural to fight about the kids but you need to be on the same page to be effective parents. First take some time to reconnect as a couple. That means no talk about kids, window treatments or exterminators. Then re-examine what you both want for your children and how you can help them do their best without everyone in the house feeling anxious.
Sometimes parents do it without thinking, but constantly pointing out what your kid did wrong, instead of where he made an effort, is a high-pressure tactic. Imagine how your daughter feels when she comes home proud to have gotten a B on a killer maths exam and all you can say is: Why didn’t you get an A? It’s not exactly a mood-lifter. The message your kid hears is that you want her to be perfect. Even if that’s not what you verbalize, that’s the unhealthy message you’re sending.
Solution: Praise them! Compliment the dinosaur parking garage your son made from Magna Tiles or the gracious way your tween daughter held the door open for an elderly couple. Every parent would love to see a report card full of As. But it’s just not realistic. When your son brings home a B or even a C (dread!), ask him if he is proud of his score and if he would enjoy getting an A next time. Whether he is happy with his grade or beating himself up, the key is to be proud, validate what he is feeling and discuss his studying style.
Making all the Decisions
Yes, mums and dads get to make the rules and many of the decisions. But when your son approaches you with the desire to play tennis and you insist he goes out for lacrosse, or your toddler wants to wear stripped leggings with a floral tunic and you put the kibosh on her creativity, your child will be stifled.
Solution: Children need to practice making independent decisions. It’s how they grow and most kids will make healthy choices when given the opportunity. It’s when your dictatorship style becomes a theme in your relationship that you need to ease up. Happy kids are one who feel motivated by their selves, not just their parents.
Overscheduling Your Child
What would you do with all that free time if you didn’t have to shuttle your kids from one lesson to one practice to one tutoring session after another? High-pressure parents tend to enter their children into constant activity, often based on the parent’s interests and not the child. If you don’t want the piano to collect dust, then you should take lessons!
Solution: Schedule some time to be low-key. School offers structure so kids need downtime…with you or their nanny. Play games with little ones (as in just to play, not specifically to learn numbers or spelling), fix a snack together and talk. Developing a relationship with your child at all ages and understanding their personalities and natural strengths might help propel you out of the high-pressure realm.