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Avoiding Pressure

by Teresa, The CuteKid™ Staff

Too often as parents we put pressure on our children. Pressure to excel in athletics or academics. Pressure to be beautiful or popular. Too much pressure from parents on a child is detrimental to them physically and mentally and causes childhood stress.

Today's world is competitive and as a result many parents apply academic pressure. They want to see their child succeed in school, get a good job, and be successful. Researchers at John Hopkins University did a study to see how parents' beliefs about achievement and success affected their children and the level of pressure their children felt. Researchers found that children of parents who emphasized external standards of performance such as getting high test scores, high grades, and winning awards felt the most pressure. Those students whose parents focused more on internal standards, "predominantly their child's understanding of material and improvement in performance," felt the least amount of pressure. Although many of these students still met high academic standards. When parents balance external and internal standards as well as provide academic support and guidance their child is less likely to feel pressure. But will still realize the importance of academic achievement.

I often tell my son that it is more important that he enjoy reading than be the top reader in his class or have read the most books. But if he enjoys reading then he is more likely to be successful because he will read more often. As a result he was one of the best readers in his class.

Many children feel pressure from parents to be beautiful or thin. Parents who place excessive emphasis on looks are teaching their child that it is a person's outside that counts. Looks are important and as a parent you should make sure that your child is well groomed and has clothes that they feel comfortable in. But looks are not everything. What is inside a person is more important. If you focus on your own looks or comment on a person's physical appearance rather than personality attributes you are teaching your child to focus on the physical as well.

While teaching sixth grade I had a couple of girls who felt that they were not thin enough (although I thought they were both thin and beautiful). So they stopped eating lunch at school. They were feeling pressure from parents to be physically beautiful. As a result of the built-up childhood stress, they began cutting themselves. As a parent it is important that we do not echo the voice of the world and teach our children that it is what is inside that really counts.

Child actors often feel pressure from their parents, especially during auditions. It is important to remember that you want acting to be a positive experience. If every time your child attends an audition they feel apprehensive and scared they will disappoint you it will show. He will not be able to really act. All you can ask is that your child do his best. He either will have or won't have exactly what the casting director is looking for. Sometimes your child might have an off day. We all do. Don't dwell on it. Remember he is just a child.

Child actors don't have to look perfect. Casting directors want to see real children. If you are calm your child will be calm as well. Allow your child to be herself as often as possible. If she's not the type to wear a frilly dress don't put her in one. She will not be comfortable and as a result will not shine on stage.

As parents we need to make sure that we are not putting undue pressure that leads to childhood stress on our children. We can support and guide them without applying unrealistic expectations.

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