Editor's Note: Dr. Ellenmorris Tiegerman is the founder and executive director of the School for Language and Communication Development in Glen Cove.
Most parents have very clear expectations about how their children should
perform and/or excel in school. Sometimes parents have unrealistic expectations which may create school problems.
Parents who are very demanding usually communicate by pressuring the child to achieve and to study. Parents may also feel the peer pressure to provide the best schools or classes for their children. The problem is that the child often gets lost in the parent's plan for their child's success.
When parents become so focused on grades that they ignore the feelings,
interests and abilities of their children, they create a situation which is often
disastrous. Children may become noncompliant and resistant because they do
not want to do the work under such circumstances. They may also develop a
range of physical symptoms from headaches to stomachaches to school phobias.
When children cannot meet their parents expectations, they may also
develop low self esteem resulting in anxiety and depression. Parents need to ask
themselves, "Are these expectations realistic for my child?"
Parents should engage the child in a discussion about his interests and his
feelings about school. If children are feeling insecure to begin with the additional pressure to perform only makes things worse. Learning needs to be supported at home and children need to be encouraged not terrorized and/or threatened about getting a perfect grade on every exam.
Parents need to turn down the pressure and take a look at the supports that are being provided at home. Is the child disorganized? Does he need help arranging his clothes as well as his work space? Does he have difficulty meeting timelines and completing activities? How much television does he watch when he gets home?
Is the home environment quiet, tranquil and nurturing? The answer to this question is most likely no since most parents are themselves rushed and stressed!
When parents communicate and/or transmit their own stresses from work and their relationships to their children, the home environment becomes a pressure cooker rather than a health spa. Before parents set any expectations for their children they really need to analyze lifestyle issues at home. Expectations require that children be part of the decision making process, otherwise they will become noncompliant.
Find out what your child likes and does not like about school and focus on his interests as you encourage him to do better in school. He always needs the support of his family and sometimes extra tutoring or special services from school professionals.