Pressured Children, Perfect Children?

Pressured Children, Perfect Children?

Last update: 25 January, 2017

Why didn’t you score a “10”? “At your age I was the best student in the class”, “You still have to work harder,” “Until you are perfect in mathematics do not stop studying”, “You can’t make mistakes”… Pressured children listen to such phrases many times during their childhood and adolescence.

Of course their parents want the best for them and by encouraging them to excel they are not looking for their children to suffer. However, behind the pressure and expectations hides unresolved issues of adults from the past and can also result in a complex and this attitude will probably be repeated with their own offspring.

Pressured children: when perfection is not enough

After studying night and day for several weeks, Peter finally scored the 10 his parents demanded of him. When he got home with the exam in hand and happy about what he had obtained, his parents looked at him and instead of congratulating him they said, “We hope that now these are the only grades that you bring home from school.”


Agnes is a girl whose parents forced her to begin studying dance. From the time she was small, she has worn pointed shoes and her hair pulled back, attends all classes and even stays after hours practicing in the mirror. At home she only listens to the melody she has to learn over and over again for the performance at the end of the year.

On the long-awaited day, the whole family will go to see her at the theater. When the performance ends her parents approach her and warn her: “You’d better  do better than your friends the next time” even when the teacher chose her as the main character.

Maria and Ernesto’s children must attend piano lessons and tennis because those were the dreams of each of them when they were small. The children do not like the keys or rackets, but that does not matter. They have to go because it is the desire of their elders. Their desire from marriage has been that their children be successful pianists and tennis players since they did not have the chance to be.

These situations may seem drawn from the imagination of a humble writer, but they are true. In many cases parents do not realize that by wanting their children to be perfect they are harming them in a way that will haunt them throughout their life.

Stimulating or pressuring children?

Of course most parents do not try to do wrong by their little ones but because  of ignorance, instead of helping, they create a future adult with many complexes, sadness and without the ability to accept their mistakes. 

However, when are they stimulating them and when are they pressuring them? The thin line between these two actions is based on the attitude. So you can better understand, Madeline Levine in the book “The Price of Privilege,” indicates that if adults are connected with children and participate in their activities, the process is called “stimulation.”

But on the other hand, if personal wishes go above the well-being of the child or while the adult is demanding and focused on another activity, such as work or household chores, it is called “pressure.”


Is pressure something new?

A habit of the twenty first century is that small children from an early age have dozens of extracurricular tasks: English, sports, music, painting, scouts, dance, and the list goes on. On one hand, this is because parents work many hours a day and cannot take care of them and on the other hand it is because they feel this way “will bring out the best of themselves.”

It’s not bad to do exercise or that they can speak a second language. What cannot be entirely correct is “pushing them” to do something they do not like or that they are pressured in such a way that if they are not perfect they are “bad kids”, “ungrateful” or “do not deserve anything”.

How to avoid seeking “perfect children”

Before attempting to achieve ideal children, we should ask what we understand by “perfection”. Wouldn’t it be better that the children are happy doing what they like? Of course there are limits. We’re not talking about accepting that they leave school or do not go to college.


Seeking great things for our children is typical of all parents. However, what price must be paid to achieve them? Encourage your children to give the best of themselves beyond the results. Do not put adjectives with negative labels on them when they do not get the best score. Ask them what they feel when they go to classes or what they would like do when they get out of school.

This way you will be raising future adults who can overcome the obstacles they face, who can take their full potential without comparing themselves to others and, above all, be happy with the future they chose.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.