De­mand­ing par­ents on the wrong track

Central Telegraph - - YOU -

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.

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