ART BY TIFFANY CHAN
By ANNMARIE LI
If parents and teachers often disapprove of a stressful lifestyle, why are students constantly pressured to complete agonizing and unrealistic goals?
From continuously stressing about upcoming exams to worrying about what their parents would think if they were to fail, students tend to have a damaging academic lifestyle. While family members and teachers may believe that “pushing” students will motivate them to succeed, stressing students out will, on the contrary, hinder students from achieving their academic goals. Instead, parents should lessen the grip of overly strict demands and foster a positive learning environment to encourage students’ success.
First of all, both genuine support and realistic expectations can ease a student’s anxiety over his or her already overflowing workload. In a 1987 study by Wendy Grolnick and Richard Ryan from the University of Rochester, they discovered that a supportive environment can lead to more student engagement, resulting in greater achievements and understanding. As a matter of fact, in the experiment that both Grolnick and Ryan conducted, a group of fifth-graders was told they would be graded on their performance for reading a set material, with another group that was asked to answer questions after reading the same material. The group graded solely on performance had better conceptual integration and even emotional reactions, compared to the group of children who was asked questions on the material. With a more balanced schedule and parents who guide their children through their school life, students can become more focused on their personal growth and build self-determination that will follow them long after high school.
While molding their child for the future, parents push their child onto a certain academic path, usually with good intentions in mind. For example, the parents may not want their child to make the same mistakes that they did, so they enforce stricter measures to ensure their child is on track to a brighter future.
Although this method is well-intended, it might not work for children who are uninterested in their parents’ particular field of interest, resulting in a resistance to pursue it. To illustrate, the excessive pressure from parents may push their child away, instilling a sense of pointlessness and despair rather than hope and determination. In the end, the excessive pressure is able to discourage them from working harder.
Regardless, adults typically see low expectations as something a student can achieve themselves and may shame students for failing to achieve these “easy tasks,” diminishing their own self-worth in the process. What people do not realize is that the so-called low expectations are specified as realistic goals that a student aims for him or herself. When parents establish rigid, unrealistic standards for their child, he or she may feel like they simply are not good enough to continue being academically successful.
While it is true that no one is able to grow academically from low expectations, extremely high expectations are also an obstacle to a student’s success. Students’ self-esteem and perception of themselves may falter, making it easier for problems such as insecurities or anxiety to arise.
At the end of the day, all students have their differences, yet none should experience the pressure to fulfill unreachable expectations. With parents constantly pushing students to do their best in school, it gets harder over time with unrealistic expectations and added stress. Ultimately, parents must adjust their own expectations to ensure their child’s success and happiness in his or her future.