Are We Pushing Our Kids Too Hard?

by | Feb 9, 2024 | KidZone, Stephanie Holmberg

In 2019 the Varsity Blues scandal hit the media. Thirty-three parents of college applicants were accused of paying more than $25 million between 2011 and 2018 to William Rick Singer, organizer of a college admissions scheme, who used part of the money to fraudulently inflate entrance exam test scores and bribe college officials.  While this scandal shocked the world, many of us began reexamining our own parenting motives, asking ourselves, are we pushing our kids too hard? Are we saying that our children’s achievements or failures determine our worth?

Children experience pressure in many ways.  In school, many kids struggle with intense academic competition from parents, teachers, peers and society at large.  This focus on grades can lead to stress, anxiety, and burnout among children.

Kids today often participate in numerous extracurriculuaractivites, from sports, to music lessons to volunteer work.  While these activities can be enriching and provide valuable skills, they can also contribute to a packed schedule and increased stress levels.

Parents may have high expectations for their children, whether it’s based on their own experiences, cultural norms, or societal pressures. These expectations can manifest in various ways, such as pushing children to excel academically, participating in multiple extracurricular activities, or achieving certain milestones at a young age.

The level of pressure placed on children can vary greatly depending on cultural and societal norms. In some cultures, academic success is highly valued.  In others, there may be less emphasis on achievement and more focus on personal development and well-being.

Each family needs to determine healthy expectations in their home, always making room for children to express how they are feeling safely.  If a child expresses that something is becoming stressful or burdensome, it is the parent’s responsibility to help the child discern the source of the stress and remedy it accordingly.

While every parent wants their children to thrive in their unique giftings, it is important to not value what a child does more than who a child is.  If a child believes that love is based only on action and achievement, they will always seek approval from others and underestimate the value of who they are.  

In KidZone, we see hundreds of children every weekend and it is impossible for us to know the pressures each child is facing.  Because we know that Jesus loves these children because of how he has created them to be, we have begun to weekly declare with them their identity in Christ.  We encourage you to remind your sons and daughters that their value is based on how God sees them.  He loves them and has created them each uniquely!  Let’s declare with our kids…I AM WHO GOD SAYS I AM!

Parental Expectations: Balancing Act: On the other hand, some argue that a certain level of challenge is necessary for children to develop resilience, perseverance, and other important life skills. It’s essential to strike a balance between providing opportunities for growth and avoiding excessive pressure.

Cultural and Societal Factors: Ultimately, whether or notwe’re pushing our kids too hard depends on various factors, including individual circumstances, cultural norms, and societal expectations. It’s important for parents, educators, and policymakers to consider the well-being and developmental needs of children and strive to create environments that foster their growth and happiness.