Pushy Parents and Competitive Mums. Are YOU One Of These?
There is a fine line between being a supportive parent and a pushy parent. Are you guilty of crossing this line? Most of us probably are at some point during our parenting journey. Here at Easy Mom and Baby, we’re feeling a bit uncomfortable as we can recognize ourselves in much of what follows.
If you find you want your child to do something more than they want to, then you might just be being a bit too pushy.
Experiences are just as important (if not more so) than achievements for your child. If they don’t enjoy the cricket club or piano lessons, then the experience is not likely to be fulfilling. They are unlikely to excel at it, even if all of your family were of world class standard at the said activity.
Think about who really wants them to do this or that extra-curricular activity. If (and be brutally honest here!) it is driven mainly by you, then maybe it’s time to back off.
Supportive parenting should be about enabling your child to make choices, not telling them what to do. Remember, there is a world of difference between encouraging your child and pushing them.
Don’t be a helicopter parent, constantly hovering, or your child will never have the opportunity to make their own choices, including their own mistakes. Making mistakes and learning how to move on is a vital part of your child’s development and one that we all too often protect them from.
Competitive mums at school
Here are a few telltale signs of a pushy parent at school. If you find yourself doing any of these, perhaps you need to reflect and take a step back!
- Arguing with teachers about their child’s performance compared to their peers
- Always getting the front row in the school plays and assemblies
- Buying the most lavish teacher gifts
- Volunteering to help at every event going
- Always having to win the ‘mum’s’ race at Sport’s Day
Pushy parents in the early years
Even before children reach school age, competitive parenting can kick in.
Classic examples we’ve come across include:
- How well their baby sleeps – usually along the lines of ‘all through the night from day one!’
- How young their baby was when he learned to walk (or talk) – this translates into bragging statements like ‘Oh, he’s been walking (or talking) since before he was one.’ OR ‘Isn’t yours walking (or talking) yet?’
Children are all different!
Your children are unique and will reach milestones at their own pace.
Whilst we all want our children to do well, we need to respect they are individuals in their own right. They are not ‘mini-me’ extensions of us. We shouldn’t dictate their every move or worry about comparing them to their peers.
Some research suggests that putting pressure on children to get top grades and do well in excessive extra-curricular activities can actually have an adverse effect. It can cause stress and anxiety. It can even have a negative impact on developing social skills and forming relationships.
There are alarming statistics about the current happiness and wellbeing of children in the UK:
- Nearly 80,000 children and young people suffer from depression, including 8,000 children aged under ten.*
- One in ten children has a diagnosed mental health disorder.*
Don’t pile on the pressure!
And don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Go with your instincts. Allow your child the space to try a range of activities, so they have more of a chance of finding what they’re interested in (and might be good at).
Enable them to make their own choices. A lot of childhood should be about unstructured playing. Emotional and social development is as important, if not more so, than academic or similar achievements.
Providing a supportive framework for your child will help them understand how to make and own their choices and decisions.
The most important job as a parent is to help your child grow up into a responsible, caring, independent adult. And, let’s face it, you’ll never get it 100% right, but if you take the pressure off both yourself and your children, you’ll be closer to the mark.
- Statistics sourced from Wendy Elyatt, Chief Executive, Save Childhood Movement, savechildhood.net