Demanding parents on the wrong track
ALL parents wish their children well and work to support them through their schooling as best they can. But when the line blurs between support and demands to excel, it can often be demotivating and lead to anxiety in the child.
While parents may have the best intentions, those expectations can often be detrimental. A study published by the American Psychological Association found that children whose parents had unrealistically high expectations performed worse than parents with realistic aspirations.
The Don’t Aim Too High for Your Kids study followed 12,000 American students and their parents and found a correlation between parents aiming too high and decreased achievement.
Psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg says there’s often more behind this behaviour than helping a child to reach their potential.
He describes them as trophy parents and says many hope to live vicariously through their child’s achievements and credit their good parenting for them.
Often, he says, they’re quick to brag and have every ribbon and award the child has won displayed as a statement of how magnificent their child is and, by extension, what a fantastic parent they are.
“Their child can achieve what they had wanted to but didn’t, so now they’re moulding their child into achieving it for them,” he says.
“But if the child doesn’t meet those expectations they are very disappointed.
“You have a situation where a child becomes a people pleaser and does everything in their power just to satisfy their parents’ wishes. And if the kid falls one mark short their life is shattered.”
It’s not just academic demands. Dr Carr-Gregg has also seen parents dictate their child’s social circles, picking out the kids they feel will provide future connections – even as far as getting into the right college at university.