Pushing your kids to achieve does have consequences. In the short term, it may seem like encouragement and nudging, however all that stress adds up and can have some unintended consequences. Could you be pushing too hard?
- If I don’t push, remind and nag constantly, her GPA will be too low to get into a good school.
- He was too tired from his weekend long fencing competition, so I helped a little on his honors English essay on Hemingway, well, alright I helped a lot.
- I’m off to another meeting with the principal. Her math teacher wouldn’t change the B to an A and this will pull her down below 4.3.
- Kids have to volunteer or their college application won’t be as strong, so we’re off to the soup kitchen, gotta get that box checked off.
I heard about one mom who insists on seeing every one of her daughter’s tests. If she sees anything less than an A, then she draws a big red circle around the grade, and posts it on the fridge, saying “You can do better.”
I get it. We can easily identify Tiger Moms and Dads who are very well intentioned and want the best for their kids. The pushing comes from a normal and natural worry that our kids won’t be able to find decent jobs and support themselves. I get it. I worry too.
And yet, I also see the flip side of this from the kids who are exhausted, stressed beyond belief and so busy running from one AP class to band to practice and then off to the tutor that they are irritable, cranky and are looking for ways to blow off steam. As parents many of us think our kids have boundless energy, so they should be super-productive 100% of the time.
Hey, how about a Spanish immersion program in Costa Rica for 5 days, then you can go build houses in New Orleans on your way home, then you can perform your interpretative dance at that competition in New York. What do you mean you’re tired, this is the time when you have to do these things.
Why Teens are Acting Out
Is it any wonder that many of our kids are opting for less stress not more? Goofing off on-line, texting and watching videos instead of doing homework?
I’m not a child psychologist, but I do see a lot of teenage girls in my practice. Many of them try lots of risky activities to release some of the tension that comes from academic and other pressures. Some must be studying Newton’s laws of physics, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
What I’ve seen is that the greater the pressure, the more they shut down and withdraw. Or, they might drink, use drugs, cut themselves, stop eating, start purging or act out sexually. They might have trouble sleeping, have headaches, stomach aches and a host of other physical signs of stress.
Why parents pressure their kids
“If we didn’t insist on 4 AP classes, then there’s no chance of getting into a good college and then what?”
I think most parents want their child to be that well-rounded person who is naturally gifted socially, academically and physically and who was internally motivated with their own drive to excel. Were the parents pushed and nagged as kids themselves? Did they have the drive and internal motivation that helped them get where they are?
All Work and No Play