Parents have always wanted children to have a good education. However, our generation has taken it to a new level. There is a tremendous amount of pressure on parents to help their children succeed academically. Getting our kids into a “good” college seems to be on everyone’s minds these days without any thought on how this is affecting our kids.
The pressure we put on our kids to succeed in school can be very stressful to them. Children are more anxious and depressed than ever before. The real problem is this, children feel judged by their parents instead of supported. They think, “I feel like my parents will be disappointed in me if I’m not as successful as they want me to be.” It is also creating a lack of internal motivation. Kids think, “My parents worry so much about my homework and school work, why bother worrying about it myself?”
Children who are not able to succeed in school for whatever reason, will have to deal with the problems they have in school and with the feelings of disappointing their parents. This can cause children to feel even more discouraged and compromises their ability to learn.
What can we do as parents to help alleviate our kid’s stress?
- Relax (like your parents before you):
My parents were pretty laid back about school. I don’t remember them ever bothering me about homework. I think they even once said, “Forget homework, go outside and play.”
Because of that, I have never gotten so uptight about schoolwork with my kids. I highly recommend this attitude. It actually helps kids act more responsibly about their work. Kids think, “Hey, if my parents aren’t bothering me about this, then they think I am capable of managing my schoolwork myself.”
- Research has proven that you can relax:
We all know people who were awful at school and still seem to be successful at life. Actually, I can think of many friends, relatives and acquaintances who never succeeded in school but have become outstanding in their given professions.
So, this should not come as surprise but, research has proven the number one predictor for success in life is not your IQ. It is not how well you do in school. We do not need to push our kids to succeed academically. The true measure of success lies in character building, not academics.
- Be happy:
Successful adults are the ones with a high level of optimism; a positive attitude is what gets you ahead in life. A strong social support system, and an ability to see stress as a challenge and not a threat is also invaluable.
Research has also shown that character can be taught. Parents can teach this to their kids. Modeling is the best way to teach your child. Children with good character traits are usually the kids who see these traits displayed by their parents. We, as parents, need to make sure that we have an optimistic outlook, we have cultivated a strong social network, and that we can effectively handle our own stress.
4. It is not all about school:
The human brain needs constant stimulation. We need to help our children find and cultivate their interests. Learning is not just reading and math, it is understanding nature, collecting bugs, mastering a new dance move, attempting to learn a new sport or a new instrument.
This might take some trial and error to find out what interests your particular child. Maybe its piano lessons, photography classes, karate workshops and art and crafts projects. Trying new things will help develop your child’s intrinsic desire to learn.
- Love them:
Children need to know that they are loved for themselves. They need to be cherished and valued for their natural abilities and strengths. Promoting their interests in areas that they love and areas that come naturally to them to will help them shine. We cannot underestimate the power of being our child’s biggest fan and supporter. We need to say, “I love you, no matter you’re your grades are.” When parents foster their child’s strengths, children learn to be positive, they feel supported and they are better able to handle stress.
- Foster a true love of learning:
As mentioned above, learning can be done in so many different ways and we need to foster a true love of learning that is not dependent on how well we do in school.
I often tell my kids, “It doesn’t matter to me how well you do you in school, it matters more that you find something that you like and enjoy about what you are learning…”
We want to share new things that we learn with our kids and we should often say, after reading an interesting newspaper article or book, “I love learning new things, this is so interesting what do you think?”
Finally, try to have interesting (but still fun!) dinner conversations with your kids, discussing current events, family news and latest scientific discoveries. Playing word games, like scrabble and Bananagrams as well as Sudoku are also forms of learning and they are fun. Vacations are also great ways to make sure you are fostering a love of learning, learning to rock climb as a family, collecting shells on the beach, visiting cool Museums or historical landmarks are all learning opportunities.
Pressuring our children academically is hurting them. Let’s help our kids learn what is truly important in life.