Pushy Parenting

Adaptation of photograph by Molly Skyar, available under a Creative Commons
Attribution license. Copyright © 2011 Molly Skyar.

Adaptation of photograph by Molly Skyar, available under a Creative Commons Attribution license. Copyright © 2011 Molly Skyar.

Tiara Chakkaw, Associate Editor, Features and Extras, 2012-2013; Columnist, 2011-2012

Motivating kids is part of effective parenting, but when does it become too much? They have boundaries and abilities, and the constant pushing and nagging most parents use on their children can reduce motivation, increase arguments and anger, and lead to low-self esteem and cheating.

When parents are always on their children’s backs, urging them to wake up at certain times or forcing them to endure endless hours of studying, it causes them to lose that spark of interest they once had. Even if they initially wanted to be a pro-athlete or the top student, they lose the self- motivation and drive they need to push themselves further. When children have their own idea of what they want and how to get there, they will take accountability for practicing or studying themselves. Having that internal drive can truly take an individual farther than someone who is constantly pushed. Plus, what happens once they are off to college? They’ve finally been accepted into an Ivy League University, and they’re off to live on their own, but they start slipping in their grades and ignoring them. Why? Because they didn’t develop an independent drive. They’ve become so used to their parents urging them to study, get the best grades, and be at the top that they don’t motivate themselves.

Children are not the same in their academic abilities, and it’s the duty of the parents to realize this. The parent knows them best and should praise them when they achieve a great score on a test or quiz in a subject where they struggle, even if that grade isn’t an “A.” A better grade than normal shows that they are at least trying to better their studies in that subject, and that itself is worth praising. Instead of pushing children to be better and better and achieve straight “A’s,” it’s much more effective and beneficial for their self-esteem if the parent congratulates them, showing them that hard work pays off. The parent should then encourage them by making them realize they are improving and are close to climbing to that “A.”

Also, if the parent is constantly rooting for them to earn straight A’s, they won’t want to disappoint their parents. Many children love the feeling of praise from their parents and will do anything to get the most desired “A” to avoid any consequences that come along with bad grades. The desire to please their parents and not disappoint them leads to the child making the choice to cheat or copy work from others. “I don’t think there’s any question that students have become more competitive, under more pressure, and, as a result, tend to excuse more from themselves and other students,” comments Donald L. McCabe, a professor at the Rutgers University Business School who is a leading researcher on cheating. “There have always been struggling students who cheat to survive,” McCabe added, “But more and more, there are students at the top who cheat to thrive.” They know it’s a bad decision but they will do it anyways because of the pressure to receive straight “A’s.”

Parents need to know their children’s’ academic strengths and weaknesses and understand that they may not always earn those perfect grades. If they are struggling in a subject and earn a better grade than they normally do in that class, they should be happy and praise them for the progress they are making, rather than asking why they didn’t earn an A instead. This can lead to low-self esteem and cause them to be more likely to cheat due to the pressure. Also, pushing too much by making a schedule for them each day and forcing them to read chapters of a text book can leave them burned-out with no self-motivation.