When Does Encouragement Cross the Line into Parental Pressure?

Childhood and adolescence is prime time for discovering lifelong interests and passions. It’s also a time when parents might be tempted to pressure their kids toward goals and accomplishments that aren’t their own.

Experts say that’s a bad idea and that parenting pressure can actually have a negative impact on your child’s future. A study conducted at Arizona State University found that children who saw their parents as valuing achievements over kindness were more likely to be anxious and depressed. Pressured children also had lower grades, and were more likely to have learning problems and display more disruptive behaviors at school.

During this time, it’s imperative for parents to remember that there’s a fine line between parenting pressure and motivation. Whether it’s how you were raised, feeling like your child needs an extra push, or a desire that your kids achieve things you weren’t able to, it’s important to provide encouragement without causing your kids more stress than they can handle.

Here are some examples of positive motivational techniques:

  1. Embrace their imperfections: Stress to your child that no one is perfect. Let them know that it is okay to make mistakes, and learn from them to grow.
  2. Show enthusiasm for your child’s interest: Be supportive! Even if you may not agree with what your child wants to do, you should let them make their own decisions.
  3. Have meaningful conversations: Inspire your child. Find out what they are truly interested in.
  4. Celebrate their achievements: Reward your child, even for the small things. Positive reinforcement encourages the good behavior to occur again. Kids want to please their parents.
  5. Lead by example: Be a positive example to your child. While kids are growing up, they are susceptible to follow the people around them.
  6. Encourage persistence: Encourage your child to never give up. Just because obstacles may get in the way; they should persevere and work hard. Teach your child to accept that sometimes they will fail. This will give them the ability to deal with, and move on from, setbacks later in life.

Photo credit: dbjules

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