What Is Pressure?
Pressure has eight different definitions according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, many of which highlight the “burden” and “mental distress” pressure can cause (Merriam-Webster's online dictionary, 2019). In recent years, parents have been known to put academic pressure on children before they reach preschool (Weissbourd, 2011). This pressure skyrockets as children get older and the pressure to get into a good college increases (Weissbourd, 2011; Wike & Menasce Horowitz, 2006). This pressure can cause significant emotional distress in students (Weissbourd, 2011).
This research may come as a surprise to many parents who can recall some parental pressure growing up, especially with regard to academics. This is a different world now. The research does not support pressuring your child to succeed, but inspiring them. Through having realistic expectations and inspirations, parents can help their students succeed.
Intrinsic Motivation & Hard Work
The desire to do what’s best for your child that drives parents to pressure the child can be redirected into inspiring the child to succeed. How do you inspire your child? The answer is often intrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation is the desire to accomplish a task because it is personally rewarding (Bernazzani, 2017). Intrinsic motivation leaves students excited for school and learning (Capek Tingley, 2019). Intrinsic motivation leads to meaningful learning that can be applied to a variety of situations and used well after the details of individual lessons are long forgotten. This is different than rote memorization, which is described by Concordia University educators (2018) as “an outdated technique” focusing on repetition. Memory fails, but intrinsic motivation often yields meaningful learning that can allow students to utilize skills for years to come.
Hard work builds mental muscle. Students need to be appropriately challenged in order to build mental strength. Providing these challenges is a great way for parents to encourage their students to develop the necessary skills instead of directly pressuring them at a young age.
Another alternative to parental pressure is helping children develop good habits and routines. Students who develop strong study habits early in their education are at an advantage as they continue with their education. Math Genie helps students develop good study habits such as time management and checking your work, while Reading Genie teaches study habits such as putting names and dates on all pages and proofreading work. Even Code Genie helps kids develop proper typing skills.
Pressuring a child can be a risk that doesn’t pay off. The best thing a parent can do for their child is to give them the gift of an education and the skills to succeed no matter what path they take.
Bernazzani, S. (2017). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: What's the difference? [Web]. Retrieved from https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/intrinsic-and-extrinsic-motivation
Capek Tingley, S. (2019). How to Encourage Intrinsic Motivation in Students. [Web]. Retrieved from https://www.wgu.edu/heyteach/article/how-encourage-intrinsic-motivation-students1809.html
Concordia University Room 241 Team. (2018). What is rote learning—and is it effective? A battle between memory and intelligence. [Web]. Retrieved from https://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/classroom-resources/what-is-rote-learning/
Pressure. 2019. In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved October 28, 2019, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pressure
Weissbourd, R. (2011). The overpressured student. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may11/vol68/num08/The-Overpressured-Student.aspx
Wike, R. & Menasce Horowitz, J. (2006). Parental pressure on students. [Web]. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2006/08/24/parental-pressure-on-students/