Parents feel the pressure to succeed on their own, but on top of that, they’re also responsible to ensure their children succeed too. The pressure to raise successful children is higher than ever. Do kids feel more pressure to be successful today?
I think children today are feeling extreme pressure to succeed, and their parents, peers and society all play a role. Parents obviously want the best for their children, but they will go out of their way to ensure their kids receive the best education. Look at the recent college admissions scandal where 33 parents, including actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, “paid enormous sums” in a cheating scheme that rigged admissions to elite universities such as Stanford and Yale.
Some parents will go into debt to send their kids to private school with the hopes that their education will ensure entrance into a top university. For some, using their wealth and social status to help their child get accepted into a good school means breaking the rules.
For those not so financially fortunate, and with perhaps a cleaner conscious, parents will encourage their children to be involved in at least one competitive sport, throwing money into training with the hopes that their child will receive a scholarship. Let’s not forget the academic pressure; kids are feeling the pressure to perform well in school, not settling for anything less than an A.
Pressure from all sides.
Kids are pressured from all sides – home, school, friends, extra-curricular activities, as well as the pressure of their impending future and career decisions. All of that pressure and being pulled in many directions can leave kids feeling anxious, inadequate, under-confident. In fact, high expectations can lead to anxiety and depression, which can also increase the risk of developing an addiction.
A 2017 study entitled, “Perfectionism Is Increasing Over Time” finds that “young people now face far tougher social and economic conditions than their parents”, and that perfectionism has increased over the last few decades. The study suggests young people now face “now facing more competitive environments, more unrealistic expectations, and more anxious and controlling parents than generations before.”
The social media factor.
Let’s face it – we live in a culture that equates success with money, social standing and fame. We live in a celebrity culture where musicians, actors and athletes are put on a pedestal.
Social media has raised the bar even further. Before social media, we looked up to celebrities on television, movies and magazines; but social media has made our connection to celebrities much more personal, and constant; we can follow our favourites 24/7. Not only do we have celebrities who are known for their movies, music or sport, we also now have unknowns rising to fame thanks to social media; YouTubers making millions of dollars, and Instagram influencers with millions of followers and brand ambassador deals. That celebrity status seems attainable to anyone who can create an account and gain “influence”.
Teens are seeking validation on their social media channels, putting too much value on the number of likes they receive and how many friends/followers they have.
Some children are self-motivated.
On the flip side, while some teens are unmotivated and lack ambition, there are some children who are highly driven and thrive with a busy schedule. For example, I’m encouraging my son to quit rep hockey to play house league and focus more on his studies next school year. But he wants to stay involved in various sports than quit playing completely. He says he’s willing to sacrifice free time to play video games or hang out with friends, to instead juggle homework and hockey. I agreed that he should do what he enjoys, as long as his grades don’t suffer.
If a child can manage the pressures, fine; but when there are any signs your child is feeling stress, anxiety, and/or depression, it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate.
What’s most important.
Every parent’s wish is for their children to be healthy, happy, and have a successful life. But we need to re-examine society’s misconceptions around wealth and merit. I’m trying to teach my kids that success isn’t measured by the amount of money you have, fame, or popularity; instead, it’s about living your best life doing what you love and pursuing your passions. It’s about spending time with friends and family, helping others, and making a difference in their lives. Most importantly, it’s about being happy with the person you’ve become.
I’d like to see my children grow up to be good, respectful human beings, who are kind and empathetic towards others, and care about other people and society.