Factors linked to a child’s stress, future success


Parents have high expectations set for their children in order for them to be successful when they are no longer under their roof. However, those high expectations can lay down a great deal of negative effects depending on the extent of what the parent expects from their child.

There are no secrets or specific methods for raising children successfully. There are ways to help children be successful, but parents have to rely on a variety of practices and techniques in order to help their children thrive once they enter adulthood.

However, if parents are setting high expectations that are causing a great amount of pressure on their child, there are negative consequences that shoot out an alarm to the parent that they are putting too much pressure on their child.

A negative consequence that is common among parenting is acknowledging the wrongdoings of the child more than praising them for their work and effort.

“Many parents ignore positive behavior because they don’t think kids should be praised for being good—instead they need pressure to become great,” said Amy Morin who wrote about the negative consequences that follow harsh parenting.

Yes, criticism is good for children in order for them to realize their mistakes and strive to be better, but too much criticism can affect children mentally and physically. Not only do children dislike criticism, but adults do as well. Nobody likes being criticized constantly about everything they do in their daily lives.

Another common issue that follows putting too much pressure on children is parents losing their temper when their child is not meeting their set expectations.

“Your child might never be a track star and may never be the valedictorian of their class. Putting pressure on them to become things they’re not interested in will only cause more stress for everyone,” said Morin.

Being pressured to be one of the smartest students in their class rank would not only stress the student out, but it would also affect everyone who is involved in the student’s life.

When parents become frustrated that their child is not meeting their expectations, that puts pressure on the parent as well. If a parent losing their temper over their child not meeting their expectations is a common issue, that is a major sign that too much pressure is being put on the child.

Adding on to the negative effects, there are parents out there who believe their child needs to be successful at everything which in turn puts unnecessary pressure on the student.

“For many parents, it becomes a habit to treat each test, competition, or performance like it’s the only one that matters,” said Morin. If every situation is treated as a success or failure, immense pressure is put on the child.

While applying for college is one of the rare situations where the student either makes it in or they don’t, a grade on a test should not be treated as the end-all-be-all of a student’s future success.

“I worry about my grades only because of my parents reactions, especially what I get on my tests and quizzes,” said junior Shelby Steel. One of the major worries that students carry is their parents reactions about test or quiz results.

It is always satisfying to see parents praise their child for getting a good grade on a paper, quiz, test, or project. However, it is not fun to sit through a lecture where the parent will criticize their child to do better in school.

In some instances, students will struggle with a certain class or classes and will try their best in order to fix the problem. It does not help when parents become involved by pressuring the student to fix the issue instead of helping their child with what they are struggling with.

A student who feels stressed because of their parent shared their set expectations.

“My parents make me feel stressed only if I let my grades fall below a B- or C+. The main reason why is mainly because a lot of the time during this year I have been struggling to keep up in my classes like math, microbiology, and English,” said junior Maddie Conner.

A common goal set for students is to keep their grades above a certain letter. If the student’s grades drop below the expectations of their parents, stress will overcome the student. The parents will also feel the stress and either try to help their child or will push them to get their grades up.

“This year I just didn’t pay attention to my grades and they fell a lot, hence why I’m stressed over it now,” said Conner. “I’ve really been trying to improve lately with the help of my parents and they have been really on me about getting them back up.”

Persistency is important, especially for education. Although being persistent can put stress on students, it also gives a reminder to students to bring their grades up and turn in assignments on time.

Another major component of student pressure is parents comparing one of their children to another. School sports are a great example of parents comparing the achievements of one of their children to the achievements of another.

“When kids are put under pressure by being compared to others, it can reduce their willingness to do things where they won’t excel,” Morin said. If children are repeatedly compared to others, then that child will give up on trying to excel when their parents are not acknowledging the positives of their child.

There are parents out there who are overly competitive, yelling at their child if they make a minuscule error. Instead of pointing out the wrongdoings, parents should encourage their child, not criticize every action the child has done incorrectly.

The term used to describe the parents who act as a controlling figure to their child is known as an authoritarian type of parenting. However, the ideal style of parenting is known as the authoritative style where parents educate their children on folkways, social taboos, and an understanding of authority without feeling restrained by it.

Aside from parents putting too much pressure on their child, there are a variety of ways that parents shape a successful child without dealing with the negative consequences.

A study regarding social skills was taken over a 20-year time period by researchers from Pennsylvania State University and Duke University. They found the following: “Socially competent children who could cooperate with their peers without prompting, be helpful to others, understand their feelings, and resolve problems on their own, were far more likely to earn a college degree and have a full-time job by age 25 than those with limited social skills,” said Rachel Gillett and Ivan De Luce who wrote about the positives of successful parenting.

Children have a higher chance of earning a college degree or having a full-time job by the age of 25 by having good social skills. If children had poorly developed social skills, they are more likely to engage in unhealthy habits like drinking or vaping.

In addition to successful students, adults and students tend to value effort over failing. Rather than criticizing students about failing, an authoritative parent would view failing as a way to learn from the mistake and aim to improve upon it next time.

“If kids are told that they aced a test because of their innate intelligence, that creates a ‘fixed’ mindset. If they succeeded because of effort, that teaches a ‘growth’ mindset,” said Gillet and De Luce.

A “growth” mindset is understood as seeing failure as an opportunity to grow and not a reflection of the student’s lack of intelligence. On the other hand, a “fixed” mindset simply states that intelligence is inherited and that failing is to be avoided in order to preserve the sense of being naturally intelligent.

Another success factor includes controlling behavior over emotions. Children should have the right to their own beliefs rather than parents making decisions without the input of the child. What makes controlling behavior different than emotions is that limiting behavior reduces harmful behavior.

Examples of controlling behavior for a better understanding include set curfews and having a specific time dedicated to homework. Assigning chores to children is a success factor as well because of how it prepares children for the real world.

“Kids raised on chores go on to become employees who collaborate well with their coworkers, are more empathetic because they know firsthand what struggling looks like, and are able to take on tasks independently,” said Julie Lythcott-Haims, a former dean of freshmen at Stanford University.

Chores may not sound all that fun, but they help children learn that each person must contribute. As Lythcott-Haims stated earlier, it teaches children to understand what struggling looks like and are able to be more empathetic about others who are struggling.

Aside from chores, children are more likely to be successful if a healthy relationship is established between the parent and the child. A strong relationship that forms early between the parent and child is shown to have positive long-term results.

“A 2014 study of 243 people born into poverty found that children who received ‘sensitive caregiving’ in their first three years not only did better in academic tests in childhood but had healthier relationships and greater academic attainment in their 30s,” said Gillet and De Luce.

The term “sensitive caregiving” refers to a parent that responds appropriately to the actions of their child and works to help create a stable environment for their child. Furthermore, parents who engage in an early parent-child relationship are creating a successful path for their child to walk on for when they reach school.

Furthermore, a study done at the Harvard Business School found a link in a child’s success to the employment of the mother-figure of a household.

“The study found daughters of working mothers went to school longer, were more likely to have a job in a supervisory role, and earned more money,” said Gillet and De Luce.

As for sons, there are also multiple benefits of having a working mother. “The sons of working mothers also tended to pitch in more on household chores and childcare, the study found — they spent seven-and-a-half more hours a week on childcare and 25 more minutes on housework,” said Gillet and De Luce. Comparing to the benefits of the daughters, the sons take on the responsibilities of keeping the house in shape while the daughters attend school longer than usual.

While there are multiple factors that send a child down a successful path, there are also a variety of factors that cause children to stress in school due to the pressure that parents put on their children.

Depending on what parenting style the parent adopts, the parent will set their own expectations for their child. Those expectations may be high or low which in turn affects how the child will perform academically and socially throughout their childhood and adulthood.

The recommended parenting style is the authoritative style because of the reasonable expectations put on the child. Instead of putting too much pressure on children that they can’t handle, adapt to the child’s way of thinking and learning.

Don’t push unreasonable expectations onto a child and expect success.