Pushing teens to be the best is probably well-intentioned. Adults only want what is best for their children, right? They worry that they will be left behind in a competitive world, and thus they must be successful and superior in their schooling life to ensure this happens. But the notion that being the best and having the most brings happiness is an illusion, future success is not determined by good grades. So if parents truly do want what is best for their children, not what they think would be a successful accomplishment, then should they stop pushing and pressuring their children into getting good grades… or else?

It often seems that to parents, there are few pleasures greater than their child succeeding at school. However, if too much pressure is put on the children to do well academically, it can backfire severely and end up affecting them negatively in a number of different ways. By having a parent lay pressure on them to succeed, a child can feel less inspired and more threatened. They’ll be so paralyzed by fear of not doing well, that they won’t actually learn and succeed like they otherwise would. Plus, if they have feelings of anxiety, they are less likely to know what the reason is. It is possible that they will place further blame for their bad feelings on themselves for not being smart enough, therefore causing more stress and anxiety.

If parents are adamant about their child matching the expectations they have set for them in school, then they are likely to have a difficult time coping, even if they miss the mark by just a little bit. They will believe that success is based on perfection and if they can’t accomplish that, they might as well just give up. Would it not be better that is a child feels inadequate due to not achieving a certain grade, for a parent to let them know that they’re there for them and that a grade doesn’t determine whether or not they’re a good person.
Furthermore, too much pressure to do well in school could even cause kids to do unethical things. For instance, a child who has been told that they must get all A’s on their report card could feel pressured to cheat on an exam or assignment in order to fulfil that obligation. If parents want to help their children do well in school, they need to encourage, rather than pressure them. By offering encouragement through means such as assisting with schoolwork and discussing different ideas and concepts, they can help spark inspiration in their child.
I believe that often the solution is just for parents to remember to take a moment to speak to their children openly about how they don’t need to stress themselves out about school too much. If if you put too much pressure on them, then they won’t have the success that is being looked for. A little bit of motivation is healthy, but regular and large overdoses of stress, just isn’t good for the soul!

Critical Thinking Challenges:
1. What are some other benefits of students being pressured to succeed? What are the downfalls?
2. Do you think children who are pressured to be successful actually achieve that success?
3. How would parents not pressuring their children AT ALL affect them?

Practical Tasks:
1. Ask your parents if they think it is appropriate for children to be pressured a bit by them? Why/why not?
2. Find research that explains what has happened when children ‘have vs have-not’ been pressured by their parents in to being successful? Was it successful, or a disaster?
3. Do you agree or disagree that it would not help society? Leave an answer in the COMMENTS BELOW.

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