Parental Expectations Increase Kids’ Stress


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Better grades, better test scores, better college. When parents have very high expectations around academic achievement is it doing more harm than good to kids?

Homework … tests … grades. Teens face a lot of high achievement expectations, but the perceived pressure to achieve these goals from parents may be reducing a teen’s well-being. Researchers asked more than 500 sixth graders to rank what they believed their parents valued as most important. The researchers also looked at GPAs and teacher’s reports of classroom behaviors. They found that teens whose parents valued academic achievement over kindness to others actually did not get better grades, but did have elevated stress levels, especially if the parent was critical. While teens whose parents emphasized kindness just as much or even more than academic achievement had lower levels of anxiety and depression, lower levels of teacher-reported behavior problems, higher GPAs, and higher self-esteem.

The study is not suggesting that parents should not value academic achievement, but rather they should dedicate as much time to promoting kindness to others.

The researchers also suggested parents should focus on being supportive when a child is struggling academically.  Ask their child how they can help, rather than being critical.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Milvionne Chery, Writer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.