Parental Pressure on Children and Students

Do you sense that you might be adding undue parental pressure on your children? If so, please know that you’re not alone. It only makes sense that you are deeply interested in the welfare of your children and, hence, you’ll be emotionally invested in their success. But, that interest and passion for their success can actually backfire if that pressure is unhealthy or is viewed by your child or your student as too much.

To learn more about the root cause of your feelings and the psychology behind them, and what is driving you to in turn drive your child with undue pressure, let’s explore the role of feelings and how feelings drive behavior.

Parental Emotions and Feelings

These emotions I am about to describe are natural reactions to an event or to stimuli. I emphasize “natural” because they are part of our human makeup and are neither good nor bad. They are part of what it means to be a human.

  • Anger: Anger is a natural response that lets us know that a want or a need we have is not being met or hasn’t been met in the past. Other forms of anger are rage, frustration, hatred, and boredom are forms along the spectrum of anger.
  • Fear: Fear is another natural response to perceived or actual physical or emotional danger. This might also be described as panic, terror, or anxiety.
  • Sadness: Sadness is often a response to loss, either of a person, possession, or status.
  • Excited: The word “Excited” is often used to describe the feelings of anticipation of something good that is about to happen.
  • Happy: Happiness is often attributed to the feelings one has when something you wanted or needed is obtained.

Repressed Feelings Leads to Parental Pressure on Children

When most of us were young, we were likely taught that some of the feelings above were “bad” and that so we repressed them. Even worse, rather than repressing them, we actually used what I call “substitute” feelings such as:

  • Guilt
  • Resentment
  • Envy
  • Shame
  • Jealousy
  • Depression

These substitute feelings are often the culprit of negative behavior and are likely the cause of most parental pressure.

Examples of Repressed Feelings

Let’s take a few examples to demonstrate the impact of repressed feelings on our decisions later in life.

  1. When you were hurt as a small child, you became angry (natural). But, you were told by your parents not to be angry (repressed).
  2. When you were a child, you were forced by your parents to share your toys with others (not natural), without understanding that we all must feel like we own something first before we are willing to share (natural).

These are just but a few examples.

Emotional Dysregulation and Parental Pressure

Let’s get back to you and your child.

Now, having reflected on your past and how you’ve dealt with circumstances and the emotions that accompany them, can you discern whether your parental pressure today is at least a byproduct of your upbringing? Is your parental pressure on your child really more about you than it is for the welfare of your child?

In order to break the negative family patterns and cycles in your family, I encourage you to reflect on the pressure you’re putting on your child. Maybe reconsider it. I think what you’ll find is that your child will succeed even more than you realize.

Give your child some breathing room. You won’t regret it.

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