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The Pusher Parent

  • The Pusher Parent

We’ve all seen “that” parent, the one at their child’s sporting event, screaming on the bleachers, more involved in their child’s performance and game than they are. Or maybe the parent who pushes their child so hard academically that despite good efforts they just can’t reach straight A’s. Yes, we all know “that” parent. “That” parent is a pusher! According to Kyle D Pruett, MD “The toughest combination is a parent whose love, support, and understanding of their child is contingent on the child’s performance.” I’ve worked with many children and can certainly appreciate any parent that cares enough to push their child to succeed but BE CAUTIOUS because pushing too hard can backfire.

The Quest for Perfection: Children that are pushed too hard often begin to feel defeated. Some kids may be able to get close to “perfection” status but may be pushed so hard that they lose interest or motivation. Others may try hard to live up the their “pushers” expectations but despite best efforts fall flat. Perhaps not all children are meant to be straight “A” students and not all athletic kids will get a full scholarship. But guess what?! THIS IS OKAY. Aiming high is great but chasing perfection is doing the unattainable.

Strain in Relationship: Pushing your child too hard can strain your relationship. If the motivation to succeed at a certain level does not come from within, resentment may form. Your child may become angry at you and start to develop behavioral issues or become avoidant and not want to communicate their feelings. I’ve worked with many kids who act out behaviorally because they feel angry and defeated by the “pusher.” The irony is that nobody ends up achieving what they want.

Self-Esteem: No matter how resilient you are, being pushed too hard by the “pusher” will inevitably take your self-esteem down. Some “pushers” will shame or put down their child if they are unable to reach too high of standards. What is often forgotten is that putting in your best effort is good enough and should be acknowledged. Who’s to say the same effort can’t go into a “B” or “C” as an “A” (again we are talking about those that really try).

Anxiety: Set off the anxiety alarm-alert the “what ifs!” Pushing too hard and putting too much pressure on your child can dial up their anxiety, which in turn can negatively impact their ability to succeed. According to anxiety.org, in older children, anxiety to perform academically may lead to an eating disorder, excessive anxiety and worry, and behaviors such as lying cheating and burnout. As parents, we want to try and help our children with their anxiety rather than fuel it.

Please keep in mind that when I say “pusher” parent, “pusher” is meant to represent the extreme. I certainly could write a whole other blog on the “uninvolved” parent! Like most things in life, balance is the key. If you are the “pusher” parent, I applaud you for being able to admit this. Congratulations, you’re flawed along with the rest of us, your children included! Please don’t beat yourself up because your simply guilty for caring, just maybe a bit too hard. Each day is a new opportunity to turn it around! If you need some help saying goodbye to your inner “pusher” or helping your child with any of the above repercussions, call A Little Counseling in Wake Forest to make an appointment or get assistance finding the right help. Remember we want to push without pushing too hard!

Part 2 Coming Soon!

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