It can be hard to get the parenting balance right, after all – there is no guidebook or training offered for new mums and dads when their new bundle of joy is born! That being said, most of us know that it’s our job to prepare our loved ones for a happy and successful life, and sometimes this can involve being slightly ‘pushy’, encouraging them towards doing things that you know will stand them in good stead for the future, even if they don’t see the benefits in their younger age. However, new research may cause many parents to re-consider their guiding approach.
Success over smiles?
Researchers from the Arizona State University conducted a study, comparing where a child’s parents placed their emphasis and how this reflected on them. They investigated 506 11-12 year olds, from high income families. With three statements based around kindness and compassion and the other three about personal success, they were asked to rank what they think their parents valued them at. Surprisingly, those whose parents valued things such as grades or achievement in extra-curricular activities or hobbies were actually showing signs of more stress, anxiety and overall distress than those who encouraged decency towards others and social interaction at school. What’s more, they found that those whose parent’s pushed them towards doing better at school were more likely to achieve lower grades and display disruptive behaviour.
The key is balance
While the researchers from Arizona State University stress that they are not suggesting that encouraging your child to achieve is a bad thing, they highlight that the damage is caused when there is too much of a strong focus towards only on achievement, without any value placed on social interaction and community spirit.
It is natural to want your child to do well at school and to succeed in their dancing, music, sports class or more, but if they believe that only this achievement is critical to them and you, then there could be repercussions in the future.
As a parent, where do you place your values? Do you encourage your children to always be kind to others, or is grades are exams the main topic of conversation in your household? Let us know how you get the parenting balance right and share your thoughts on this new research at our online parent forum.