Looking to understand what goes through your children’s minds? Trying to prepare yourselves on how to understand their behaviour as they grow older? Well, we hope to help you!

We’re Project Cupid, a group of eight Year 3 students from Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary) advocating for self-compassion in youths aged 11-16 and we’re hoping to help parents understand the roles they play in their children’s mental health and self-compassion through this article.

Self-compassion in youths

Setting unrealistic expectations may negatively affect a child’s mental well-being. When children are unable to meet their parents’ expectations, they mentally beat themselves up, constantly harping on what they could have done better instead of focusing on what they have already done well.

According to an article in 2018 by The Straits Times, ​there has been an increase in the number of teens at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) diagnosed with stress and emotional problems.

Furthermore, according to experts, “there has been a rise in the number of stressed-out children and youth in Singapore. While the demands of school are often blamed, the stress often stems from multiple sources.” One of these “sources” may well be from parents.

When parents interfere with what their children want to pursue in life, they may end up being consumed by curiosity and the need to go against what their parents want. This feeling only grows, the more their parents restrict them and hold them back.

impact of parental pressure on youths

➡️ Related Read: Signs That Your Kids Are Overworked And Stressed

They begin to hide things from their family, doing the exact opposite of what their parents want. Sometimes, they may even go as far as to rebel, purposely slacking in schoolwork, picking up more unfavourable habits, etc.

Now, regardless of what your expectations are, we understand where you’re coming from; you only want what’s best for your children. Your expectations for your children may be higher than what they’re currently capable of, but that’s only because you want to push them further; growth is only possible when they overcome challenges, right? We understand that.

But there’s a difference between ​realistic expectations that still test their limits and high expectations that push them too far.

​Understanding this difference is crucial when it comes to your child’s mental health. This is where it’s important to put yourselves in your children’s shoes, and really try to see what it’s like to be on the receiving end of your expectations, considering your child’s character, aptitude and capabilities.

Through the ​data from a two-year study of over 12,000 U.S. students and their parents, it was proven that ​a parent’s overly high aspirations are associated with a worse academic performance by their kids.

Realistic expectations that push your child further are good and sometimes, even necessary for their growth. These allow your child to aim higher and not remain content with what they’ve already achieved as there’s always more to explore and discover.

However, when your expectations are too high, your child is going to struggle to become what you want them to be. Coupled with their own expectations for themselves, they will be stretched beyond their capabilities.

This could result in multiple negative repercussions such as deterioration in their mental health due to anxiety or depression, rebellion or becoming more susceptible to negative influence. These will definitely take a toll on your child’s future, which will prevent them from reaching their goals or prevent them from future opportunities.

depression in youths

We’re sure you don’t want your child’s future to go downhill, so we’d like to suggest what you can do to help your child scale greater heights instead.

Take a step back. It might be hard, especially when you have the experience to know what is best for them, but for the most part, let them set their own goals, experience the learning process and improve from there.

Of course, there will always be points where you will have to guide them and push them further when they seem to be taking the easy route, but it’s best to trust them. After all, they know themselves best.

➡️ Related Read: How Your Child’s Beliefs about Themselves Shape their Future Success

Your children will have their own goals that they wish to achieve and these goals will definitely be enough to push them forward. Adding additional stress to your expectations may be a bit too much for them to handle.

Setting goals

Talk to your child. Talk to them about their future, their wishes and their ambitions. Guide them through setting their own goals, consider what they want and understand why they want to reach certain goals.

Not only will this help them in the long run, to be able to roughly plan out what they want in the near future, but this will also help you to better understand their thought processes and aspirations.

Furthermore, by speaking to them about your reasoning behind your own expectations for them, they will be able to understand where you are coming from as a parent. When you have a better understanding of each other, your relationship will also be strengthened.

We hope this helps! If you’ve read until here, we sincerely thank you for your support!

Find out more about us ​here.

This post is brought to you by Project Cupid (RGS).

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