Child under pressure

Can Pressure be Healthy for your Child?

Newsletter Nov 13, 2023

‘My daughter excels in playing the piano and has a concert this weekend. She also is an ace swimmer and we hope to see her win the inter-school races coming up’… we often hear mothers proudly proclaim.

It is indeed, extremely heartening when kids do well. Parents want kids to do their very best and be successful in every walk of life. Children are brought-up with these expectations to stay organized, well-behaved, get high grades and excel in sports. A certain amount of organized activity as well as pressure to excel is important to build virtues of discipline, high performance and focus. However, there is a threshold that sometimes gets crossed. We also hear adults expressing concerns that kids today “can’t be kids anymore” because of the extreme stress levels.

Read More on Tackling Childhood Stress

The adverse signs of pressure aren’t always apparent in the beginning, making it difficult for parents to know when their children are feeling ‘extra’ stress academically or in their extracurricular activities. Kids who face tremendous pressure to do well from their loved ones can sometimes lead to dire outcomes across different areas of life – ranging from eating disorders, social anxiety or even physical injury from driving too hard.

A well performing child may not feel adequate if they are not the ‘best’. This may sometimes result in refusal to participate due to the fear of losing.

Having said which, some pressure, applied correctly often works wonders.

Read More on The Importance of Healthy Competition in Education

Inculcating good habits of punctuality, persistence & perseverance manifests into success academically and across art / sports. It also leads to the ability to sustain the pressure of competitive exams and enables entry into top-notch institutions!

Let’s see some easy ways to ensure our children have just enough pressure, without making it difficult to sustain:

Teach them to Better themselves

No comparisons with friends or colleagues. Help them learn to better themselves and their own personal best. This reduces any social anxiety or external fears. Offer to time them while swimming or when they are doing a puzzle. Encourage them to persevere and move up levels in games with increasing difficulty.

Avoid the use of negative words or memories

If your child did something wrong in the past, nagging will not have the desired impact. Praise the effort of your child. For example, in your child does not win a medal at the 200 meter Running race final in school, encourage the fact that he made it this far where so many didn’t. Try and work with him to improve his personal best.

Choose amongst activities

Today, children have a plethora of options to choose from, online and offline. This often leads to over-exposure with absolutely no time for free or unstructured play. While it is important to get exposure and try new things, we should also be equally adept at dropping things that our kids are not interested in. Instead, help children to focus on their strengths and have free time to develop friendships, explore books and even media!

Read More on Increasing the Probability of Children making Good Decisions

Let children express themselves

Talk to your child about their assignments or their extra-curricular activities. Set aside your feelings to make room for your children to express theirs. Giving your kid the space and freedom to be seen & heard will encourage them rather than make them feel that you will judge them. If your son claims to dislike a sport you love, instead ask what he prefers and why. Do not give him a difficult session on why he doesn’t like the sport you chose for him!

Teach children to accept failure

Encouragement coming from parents can prove to work wonders for children. Parents should teach children that failure is good and a crucial step on the path of learning. Failure is inevitable, but by focusing their attention on what went wrong and how to fix it or sometimes simply letting it go can help children deal with real situations and learn.

Reward Children

Reward Effort, Reward Progress, Reward Success! We often keep all the good stuff for the very end. We must remember, it is the journey that matters as much as the goal. Children need to be encouraged along the way to be the best version of themselves. For this, they need positive strokes at every stage of their learning. Reward makes the experience of learning positive and reduces any pressure they may feel.

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Parents want the best for their children and want them be successful. However, often, with this innate desire comes the tendency to apply pressure – sometimes a bit too much. We need to be cognizant of healthy pressure and positive strokes for our children to keep trying, keeping progressing and keep winning in every walk of life!

“If the child is not learning the way you are teaching, then you must teach in the way the child learns”
– Rita Dunn



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