Kids (4-12)

7 Signs That You’re Expecting Too Much From Your Kids


We all want to set high standards for our children and help them to achieve what they’re capable of. But even the best parents can go too far from time to time. Where’s the line between encouraging good performance and pushing too hard? Here are some warning signs to look out for:

1. Your child stops sharing fears and failures with you. If you find out that your child is hiding her not-so-stellar moments from you, rather than talking to you about them, it may be that she knows you’ll be too disappointed or angry. Kids need to feel like their parents are a “safe place” where they can retreat to regroup after a failure, or when dealing with a fear.

2. Your child loses interest in things they once loved. If your little boy who used to love baseball suddenly and inexplicably doesn’t want to play, it may be because the pressure from you is too much. Have an honest talk to see if the heat from you or your spouse burned him out.

3. You’re more concerned with the outcome than the process. If you’re more concerned with the straight A’s or the gold medal than with how the process of striving to do well is shaping your child’s character and work ethic, you’re off-course. A “B” that’s been hard-won is worth more than a thousand easy A’s, and a third-place finish that was formative for your child may be worth much more than the gold.

4. You don’t enjoy their activities anymore. When parents get too wrapped up in the success of their kids, it drains the pleasure out of the activities for everyone. Learn to just watch and enjoy without constantly assessing what your kid could do better.

5. Your kid shows signs of fatigue or frequent moodiness. Over-scheduled kids who are pushed hard by their parents in multiple arenas often have their psychological stress surface as physical symptoms or emotional behavior. If your child is often worn-out or down, it may be because his plate is too full, or the pressure is too great.

6. Your child suffers frequent sports injuries. Pediatricians and orthopedic specialists are observing a sharp rise in the number of over-use injuries in young athletes—some still in grammar school! If your kid is often battling nagging injuries, her level of involvement is likely too much, too soon. If it’s because he loves to play, it’s still a problem, but if it’s because you or a coach are requiring too much practice, it’s up to you to change it.

7. Your child feels that your acceptance of them is tied to their performance. If the only time you praise your child or show her affection is when she wins a blue ribbon, she’ll grow up seeing a direct relationship between the two. Make sure you remind your kid that you’d love them just as much if they never won a thing—just because they’re yours.

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