them from pursuing other interests and making their studies their only priority. “I was in high school when I resorted to cheating during exams so I could get the high grades my parents expected from me. My circle of friends and I were caught during our third year and we were expelled,” relates Jonas*, a bank executive. “My family had to undergo counseling for more than a year to resolve our issues. Eventually, my parents acknowledged their mistakes and eased up on the pressure. I didn’t graduate with honors but, thankfully, they were okay with that.” Now a father himself, Jonas encourages his kids to do well in school, but refrains from imposing very high expectations. Indeed, there is a difference between encouraging a child and forcing a child to excel scholastically. Although they may be good intentioned, extremely high expectations could backfire. Some students may develop negative feelings towards education and do badly in exams. There could even be worse consequences. “(Pressured) children tend to be withdrawn because they are afraid to fail and make mistakes. They also get
depressed and, in some cases, there are those who would take their own life because they can no longer cope with the stress and pressure,” points out Teacher Ria. She thus counsels students who feel undue pressure to talk it out with their parents. “They should be upfront and tell mom and dad why it is not working. If this is not an option, I would encourage children to seek the help of a third party—maybe a relative, the school’s guidance counselor, or even the child’s class adviser who can discuss the issue with the parents during the ParentsTeachers Conference.” Similarly, Teacher Ria reminds moms and dads to ease up on burdening their children with unrealistic goals. “No matter how hard it is, you just have to let go. At some point, your children must be given the chance to do what they like to do. Give your support, let them explore and decide for themselves,” she says. Parents, she adds, must be facilitators. “Expose your kids to different areas—from math and science to linguistics, music and arts, and even sports. It is not cool to be a dictator. Ultimately, the dreams that are to be fulfilled here, after all, are your kids’, not yours.” FM
Your children must be given the chance to do what they like to do. Give your support, let them explore and decide for themselves. *Names have been changed to protect privacy
Good or Bad? Stress is actually neutral, and it is “a person’s perception of the event that determines their response” and makes stress either positive or negative, says Victoria Tennant, M. Ed., an educational consultant. In her article, “The Powerful Impact of Stress” published by Johns Hopkins School of Education, Tennant describes stress as negative when it causes a person to feel threatened and not in control of a situation. “These feelings instigate a powerful reaction—affecting both the brain and body in ways that can be destructive to physical and mental health.” Conversely, stress can be a positive tool that stimulates a person to manage a situation. “This positive response prepares the body for action and activates the higher thinking centers of the brain,” she writes. “A positive response to stress can provide the energy to handle emergencies, meet challenges, and excel.” In academics, a little stress can be a good thing. It can give children a gentle push to take a step further and reach higher goals. Parents, therefore, should learn to discern when to put on the pressure and when to ease up. By ensuring balance, they may even be happily surprised to see the children they have guided appropriately and loved unconditionally transform later on into self-confident, accomplished, and well-rounded adults.
September-November 2016 | FamilyMatters