Every parent is guilty of falling into the perfectionism trap and wanting their child to be successful. While parents should strive to motivate and enrich their children, they also need to be realistic and rational. Clinical psychologist and New York Times bestselling author Dr. Shefali Tsbary is well-known for her research on children and parenting. Tsbary teaches parents to navigate parenting without fear and anxiety, how to end conflict, and motivate children with a genuine connection.
Her research and studies have found that kids are buckling under the unfair burdens of success and achievement, and the pressure to be better. Tsbary attributes the rise of anxiety, depression, and suicidality in children with the daily pressures kids face. “Parents are buying into culture’s insane expectations on how to be happy and successful, little realizing that this is the path toward madness,” Tsbary said at a convention in Toronto. “This insanity can only be broken once parents separate and disentangle from their attachments to culture’s ideations of how things should be and instead work on other goals such as self-awareness and inner-wholeness.”
According to surveys, parents do not intentionally place unfair pressures on their children. In most cases, a parent is blinded by the vision of success and doesn’t appreciate the effort their child is making.
Nonetheless, it is never too late to stop being so hard on your child. Here are the red flags to watch out for, and some small ways you can stop putting pressure on your child.
Your criticism outweighs the praise you give.
Are you guilty of focusing on the things your child isn’t doing instead of offering praise on the things they are doing? The only way your child will learn and grow is by making mistakes. Parents need to recognize the effort behind mistakes and mishaps by sharing constructive praise with their child. No one likes consistently hearing how bad they are or learning that they were wrong.
Next time you find yourself in the midst of administering criticism, take a few deep breathes, and evaluate the situation. Ask yourself, “What did my child do right?” “How can they learn from this?” and “What can I do to help them stay motivated?” It is every parent’s job to promote positive behavior; although, if a child is only criticized, they will not know how to be positive. The majority of children emulate the behavior of their parents.
You micromanage your child’s daily responses and actions.
Do you hover over your child when they complete chores, play, do homework, compete, or participate in extracurricular activities and other daily activities? If you said yes, you are a micromanager. Even though it is important to be involved in your child’s life, not allowing them to figure out stuff for themselves is harmful. Your child will never fully develop if you are constantly checking in on them.
Allow your child to make mistakes and develop their problem-solving skills through real-life experience. If you foster good communication skills with your child, they will feel comfortable coming to you when things become challenging. However, if you continue to micromanage your child, they will not understand the natural consequences associated with being wrong.
You are a daily overreactor.
Your child is not going to be good at everything. It is okay if they fail sometimes. It is okay if they don’t check every box. Do those statements make you uncomfortable?
If you find yourself implementing a “make or break” scenario within every scenario, you are guilty of being a daily overreactor. In fact, it is likely that your tendency to overreact has become habitual. Overreactors will treat every test, competition, or performance like it is the only chance to be successful – when the reality is so far from that unrealistic ideal.
Parents should walk their expectations back and accept that no one is great at all the things. Instead of making everything a big deal, select a small list of things that are non-negotiable and focus your efforts on those topics; however, it is important to remember to exude positivity and not criticism.
Do you constantly compare your child to other children?
It doesn’t matter if you are comparing your child to their sibling or friend, either way it is wrong! Comparing a child creates constant competition and doesn’t factor in a child’s individuality. Every child has their strengths and weaknesses. Comparison has the potential of creating low self-esteem, low confidence, and stunts motivation.
Always encourage your child to be better for themselves. Children shouldn’t strive to make other people happy; if their actions create happiness for someone else, that is just a by-product.
Are you constantly losing your chill?
Placing pressure on a child creates anxiety and unnecessary tension within a parent. Oftentimes, parents will grow frustrated quickly and constantly be stressed. While it is okay to lose your temper from time to time, it is not okay to lose it every day.
Strive to create balance within yourself, as a parent, and identify what realistic expectations look like for your child as an individual. If you have multiple children, avoid grouping them into the same category of expectations. If you know that your child can do better, talk with them, reinforce their actions positively, and provide examples of how they have performed at a specific task in the past.
Parenting is hard. You will make a ton of mistakes, and that is okay. Take ownership of your flaws and show your child how you believe in them by admitting when you are in the wrong. Every parent wants their child to have a prosperous and successful life, but it is important to recognize the unfair pressures placed on children and how that can negatively stunt growth.