Are parents pushing their children too hard to succeed?


Are parents pushing their children too hard to succeed?

By Donovan Grant

Have you ever wondered when the right time to push your children is and when to back off? Well you all want your children to be successful, don’t you? So why not!

In our quest to help our children succeed in life we tend to give them all the help that we can and more. This can come in the form home schooling, extra tuition or even after school music lessons just to name a few. You’ll find parents of 'high achievers' and other young people offering support just to help their children be the best they can be.

This is not easy to do. Our children do not come home from hospital with a clear set of rules of how to raise and challenge them so we create our own rules. Its can prove to be a bit tough when you find the schools working against you. Well not exactly, but when schools decide to take the competitive edge out of kids sport and other work, it can be a bit worrying. This is definitely evident in the UK.

So why could it be important to challenge our children? Well just imagine a couple of teenagers in the final of a piano competition. If you were to ask one what their toughest competitor would be like? They’d probably give you some key attributes like relaxed, got good rhythm, smooth transitions, etc; they would know their opponent well. Why would they know this? Because it helps them to get focused for the challenge. If the other opponent was easy, then they probably wouldn’t be that bothered or give the final as much attention.

The value in knowing who or what your child’s perfect competition is is that it gets them to raise their game. Yes, they may feel a bit make you queasy, anxious or maybe even keep them awake the night before a big challenge. The thing is- it will also make them play better and be sharper.

The sprinters running in the Olympic 100 metre final don't choose opposition, they just know that they want to win and be #1. They know that only their “A game” will do. So they train hard, eat well, get a lot of rest and focus on the gold medal.

So even for you and me, our best competitor will be the one who gets you to play your best. It will enable you to sustain quality, overcome hazards and set higher standards.

For a child, the competitor might not be another pupil; it could be finally coping with a teacher they don’t like, it could be getting past an exam grade that they’ve never breached before or it could just be turning up to class every lesson.

Maybe we need to turn the question around and ask “are children failing because parents not pushing them hard enough?”

Now this article is not a parent basher, so let’s get that clear. This is a real issue about whether competition is useful to our children.

When we look in the business world, we see Pepsi competing with Coke. We see Microsoft competing with Apple and we see British Airways competing with Virgin Atlantic. The best always want to compete with the best.

Thinking about your child right now, just step back for a moment and just suppose you were preparing them for success, now answer this question….

What are features of the perfect competition for my son or daughter? Would it challenge them to raise their game?

I’d be the last person to tell parents how to structure their children’s lives because in the end it all boils down to a bit of common sense. What are you going to focus on?

And remember this- the success of your child is not only based on parenting influence. Different children bring out very different responses related to achievement issues. For example some children naturally push themselves harder than others, some are more focused than others and above all children will have significant differences in ability (even in the same family).

A funny thing happens when you raise the bar though… Young people find a way to get over it, once they realise it is expected. Our children can do amazing things — if they're asked to. My heartfelt belief is that it is right to create options for children from which they can choose a direction and by the way doing nothing is not an option. We need to strike a balance between giving our children the first push toward achievement in terms of direction, opportunities and resources, and then stepping back and empowering them to find their own personal connection with the activity.

In time, our involvement shifts from direction and guidance to encouragement and freedom. The development of the child is key.

A thought to ponder on today is ‘Who or what would be the perfect competition and why?’

Let’s raise children to appreciate the joys of aspiring and achieving!!

From my heart to yours



How are you using motivation to help your child to achieve? How important is their success for you as a parent? What have you found that works for keeping them focused on their own goals? Share your feedback in the comments section below!

Donovan Grant is a coach, mentor, blogger, speaker and IT professional who brings his wisdom of parenting for the last 21 years and coaching clients through the stages of raising youth and empowering leaders with life lessons that are changing generations.  He is a passionate and committed leader who believes that we all have the ability to help to change someone else’s life. Actively doing so as a catalyst for many years he teaches how to live a life of success, balance, integrity and fun, whether at work or at play. 



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