The Effects of Parental Pressure on Children’s Mental Health - Deepstash
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Parental pressure

Parental pressure

This is the emotional stress parents impose upon their children and is often related to academic performance, extracurricular activities, social standards, appearance, friendships, and romantic relationships.

Certain parenting experiences might prompt you to pressure your kids to make different choices, such as when:

  • your child struggles with something that came easily to you
  • your child makes different life decisions than you did
  • your child chooses friends who you think are poor influences.

You may feel that your own choices could make their lives easier, more successful, or earn you the admiration of other parents in your circle.


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Types of parental pressure

There are two main forms of parental pressure: direct pressure and indirect pressure.

  • Direct pressure often involves yelling, force, or complaining.
  • Indirect pressure may involve guilt-tripping your child or reminding them of rigid expectations.


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The mental health effects of parental pressure

Excessive or inappropriate parental pressure carries many mental health consequences for kids as they grow up.

Studies suggest that children who grow up with parents who yelled, shouted, or verbally humiliated them may have a greater likelihood of experiencing challenges  such as:

  • depression
  • negative self-talk
  • anger management problems
  • physical aggression
  • delinquency
  • eating disorders and body image
  • trouble maintaining relationships.


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What causes parents to pressure children?

What causes parents to pressure children?

Parents might feel the need to pressure their children for many reasons.

  • Research shows that 86% of parents pressure their kids because they grew up with distant or negligent parents and wanted to pay more attention to their own children.
  • Guilt — often stemming from big life disruptions like moves or divorces — was another reason cited. Parents fear being neglectful during these upheavals, and they overcompensate with parental pressure.


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Use praise more than criticism

Criticism drawing attention to your child’s mistakes or behaviors that bother you can cause your child’s defenses to go up, perpetuating what originally sparked the criticism.

Instead, try praising your child for what they do well. Studies recommend working your way up to offering four times more praise than criticism.

Parenting with praise may boost your child’s confidence and improve your child’s academic performance, reinforcing their belief that they can do the work and be successful at it.


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Focus on health, not appearance

Focus on health, not appearance

  • Avoid teasing or criticizing your child about their weight or appearance. These types of behaviors are strongly tied to the development of eating disorders in young adults.
  • Monitoring or restricting food can backfire, leading your child to adopt unhealthy habits and hide them from you.
  • Instead, swap discussing weight or body image in favor of encouraging healthy habits, like eating enough nutritious foods and exercising.


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Don’t do your child’s work for them

You might be tempted to intervene in your child’s life out of a sense of duty or control, such as:

  • asking your child’s teachers for extra credit
  • scolding a classmate who hurt your child’s feelings
  • hiding or restricting access to food.

But if you help make your child feel capable, they’ll be more motivated to solve problems in the future. Consider talking with your child about solutions to their problems without attempting to solve them yourself.


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Set rules, not ultimatums

Set rules, not ultimatums

Authoritative parenting — rather than authoritarian parenting — is tied to high self-esteem in children. When parents are overly controlling, children can lose faith in themselves and their ability to do things or listen to their own feelings.

Instead of telling your child that it’s your way or the highway, try setting house rules with their input and enforce them consistently.


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Validate your child’s feelings

It’s easy to assume that your child is a smaller extension of you who feels the same way you do about the same things.

But when you give credence to your child’s feelings instead of seeking to control them — even when they’re not the same as yours — you acknowledge that they’re their own person.

Validating your child’s feelings and keeping communication about emotions open and honest can help your child learn to trust their gut in life


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Sometimes the most important life lessons are the ones we end up learning the hard way.


Parental pressure may come from good intentions, but it can hamper a child’s self-esteem.


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