The price our children are paying for success may be coming from the least expected place – school. The idea is that in order to be successful in life, they have to have a good job. To get the job, they need to attend a good college. To get into a good college, they need to graduate high school with exemplary grades.
It’s nothing we haven’t heard before, and at this point that pattern of high school → college → job → success is so ingrained in all of us that we’ve become blind to what this drive towards “success” is doing to our children.
Pressure Cooker for Success
In order to help our children to succeed in school, and thus set them up for a successful career, many parents believe they need to drive them. By applying pressure, parents feel they’re:
- Toughening their children for the real world
- Pushing them towards success
- Helping them stay focused
Instead, this stress received from school to make good grades, and from their parents at home have kids locked in a pressure cooker. Instead of helping them, it’s actually making things worse. The constant force from all sides rises anxiety levels to the point that it can affect retention and even have both short term and long term effects on their health.
The focus on getting good grades teaches them to remember numbers and facts to score high on tests. Instead of learning the material and applying critical thinking, they’re only learning be good at taking tests. It does nothing to prepare them for what it’s like in college or even the job market.
Loosen the Reins
This doesn’t have to be all there is. Irvington High School in Fremont, California took part in a survey that revealed 80 percent of the students that participated suffered moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety.
So they did something about it and even though it’s still early, the students are all showing signs of improvement while actually performing better in school.
Working together, the three things parents and teachers at Irvington did are all things that you can do to help your children grow and succeed are:
- Manageable workload.
- No homework assignments over the weekend.
- Providing real support.
No more than 20 minutes per class, per day. Too much homework can significantly affect your child’s ability to get the proper amount of sleep, which hurts their ability to learn even further.
Everyone needs a day off to recharge and prepare for the next week.
Let your child know you’re interested in more than their future. Let them know you’re also interested in how they feel. When they feel you’re on their side, they typically don’t feel so alone, which in turn could be shown to reflect on their test scores and ultimately, their success.
By listening to your child and understanding the goals for their future together, as well as what pressure and anxiety can be doing to them, you can help them reach success in a healthy and effective way.