Many surveys show that a significant number of African and Asian parents tend to apply a lot of pressure on their children at different times of the child’s life. The pressure usually is directed towards the performance of children in academics, developing skills for their talents and a rule-based discipline. Often, academic performance is the reason for most pressure.As with any pressure, there comes the need for a release. Any build up pressure needs a way out. This pressure, if too much, breeds negative consequences in the life of the children that one has to ask the question, is it worth it? Let us explore some of the negative consequences of too much pressure on children.
Children suffer from mental illnesses such as stress, anxiety, and depression
The pressure to perform, tight school schedules, tons of extra-curriculum activities, high competition and constant comparison not only affects many teenagers’ sense of self but also leads to mental illnesses which many parents do not know how to deal with or end up dealing with them wrong. Many parents, of no fault of their own, do not know how to listen. They were not taught how to observe their kids for signs of stress nor do they know how to listen with an intention to understand. Instead, the parents pressure and nag them to a point that the child would least want to speak to them. It is important to note that this pressure to perform is not completely the fault of parents but a culture that places undue value on academic performance even though one’s academic performance does not necessarily indicate an overall satisfaction in life.
Childhood is being underdeveloped.
Children are being forced to become adults way too fast. Children are supposed to play and have fun and develop their growing brains as children and not as miniature adults. As the pressure to perform in multiple fields is pushed down on them and the culture of cutthroat competitions sets in, the time to play and simply be is lost. Many a parent push their kids to engage in multiple ‘prestigious activities’ where the motivation is often a mixture of showing off to other parents, competing with other parents or desire for the child to gain a variety of skills. At times indeed, the motivation may be good but the manner of action is not necessary.
Children lose any sense of curiosity, innovation, and creativity
Creativity and originality cannot develop when a child has no time to wonder and enjoy the world around them. The strict timetables are not bringing up well-rounded individuals but robots of information without any capacity for originality. When children invent games and play, their brain and their growth become even better and their creativity is cemented.
Education has been reduced to a means instead of a goal.
How often do parents compare their children or notice only their academic performance in terms of position in class and grade? Education is about self-discipline, prayer, social engagement, responsibility and the art of learning, understanding and applying information. Since children are rarely congratulated for being disciplined, they think that education is only academics and their self-value is equal to their academic performance. Therefore, education does not become a way of life but only a stepping stone to a job and without the job, education is perceived as useless and one experiences themselves as failures.
Parental Pressure often bears little fruits
High academic performance is not a guarantee of greater income and success in life. Moreover, having a child who is a high academic performer who ends up abusing drugs, being corrupt, keeping poor quality friends, sexually promiscuous and untidy is not any good parent’s dream. It is better to have a child who is an average performer and with a good sense of discipline, love of God and people.
Vital Parental Presence and Love is lost.
Children need the presence of their parents and to be held and comforted. If most of the meetings with the parents are all about academics, then we have poorly integrated adults. As parents work harder and harder to provide school fees and other expensive material needs, the higher importance of relationships and love is lost. Children grow emotionally distant from their parents and they end up using a large part of their lives trying to compensate for that lack in pathetic relationships often without any sense of closeness to their parents. This results to parents whose children have not time for them when they get old just as they did not have time for them when they were young.
Children run away from their family homes
The reality often is a significant number of street children have places they can stay. But due to high levels of pressure, dysfunctional family, sexual, emotional and physical abuse, many of them ran away from home and joined gangs of youth with similar experiences. Many parents are often too busy to see the signs coming and they are themselves under immense pressure from work and other sources to observe what their children are becoming. Moreover, many parents do not have the skills to accompany and listen to the non-physical needs of their children.
Teens are increasingly taking their lives.
Stories of teenagers who have attempted or committed suicide because they failed in an exam or their parents could not afford school fees for them to further their education are not uncommon. Others, having endured so much pressure and implicit rejection by their parents due to their academic performance cannot persevere when a relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend fails.
Many young people attach their self-worth with the approval of their parents. When they feel that their parents have lost hope in them, they feel worthless and lose hope in themselves too.