Preparation pressure part 2: Pressure cooker beware – steam trapped within


Parents push their children to perform well in school for many reasons. Perhaps trying to steer them to their own alma mater or preference for example. However unwittingly, the force may cause many young people to stifle the steam of anxiety putting them at risk of exploding emotionally – much like a pressure cooker.

The parent’s drive for their children to perform well and get into the prestigious schools can add obscene amounts of pressure on preteens and teenagers. When this happens, children spend less time learning life lessons and finding their individuality.

Good intentions

Child and family psychologist, Richard Weissbourd, writes about the issue of parent involvement with a child’s education in The Association for Curriculum and Development. Weissbourd addresses the issue of a lack of moral development. “The school’s intense focus on academic achievement has squeezed out attention to other crucial aspects of kids’ lives.” Yet, parents may have legitamate reasons for pushing their children’s academic performance.

Through a survey on the website Inside Higher Ed, the reasoning behind a parent’s pressure is discovered to be more than just a desire to perform well. The results show 34 percent of parents of high school students are very likely to, “Restrict colleges to which children can apply based on tuition.” While, 38 percent of parents said the top reason children went to college was to get a good job.

Even if student and parent loans are available, the parents may not be able to pay those off due to other family needs. Thus, parents may push their children earlier on in school to find a major of future financial promise, which can ideally lead to a successful future. The parents may take it too far however, as some youth are given limited options and shoe-horned into certain majors.

Giving them space and time to grow

Children in schools should be granted time to find and explore their own activities and interests. Hara Estroff Marano, author of, “A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting,” explores the problem of parents being too involved in the academics of graduate students. Marano chides that parents are continuing to be heavily involved in college and graduate schools, a time which should be for the child to grow up and become independent.

Marano adds, “The threat of criticism has corrosive effects on attitudes toward parents and self-development, and contaminates relationship with others.” The effects of too much pressure on a student can damage the relationship between parent and child. By the time a young man or young woman goes to college or graduate school, parents should not be involved in the academic courses. If children are given more academic autonomy earlier on, with respect to homework and projects, there will be less pressure down the line to get the independent gears going when work pace has compounded in college.

This does not mean children should be left completely on their own in school and academics – teachers depend on collaboration and involvement of parents to a degree. However, the student should be the one in the driver’s seat of ideas, problem solving and implementation for achievements and interests. White River Academy provides treatment and care for troubled boys from ages 12 to 17. The academy follows a boarding school format, offering guidance through a disciplined education program and instilling character values through student-coordinated service projects to promote positive growth. For more information or to register, feel free to call 866-520-0905.

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