As parents realize that pressuring children to get all A’s is stressing them out too much, they have shifted to saying “Do your best” instead.
I propose that “Do your best” can also cause kids to feel pressured to meet their parents’ high expectations.
Here is why I say this. When parents tell me that they just expect their children to do their best even if it getting B’s on their report card, I think to myself, I don’t always do my best. Am I a failure, a bad person if I stop working and just go watch TV even though I have a list of things to do? How would I feel if my husband said to me each day, “Just do your best today, Cynthia. That’s all I ask.” Would you want this expectation put on you each day?
I don’t have the desire or energy to push myself each day 100% which is what “do your best” translates into. Adults in the workforce don’t their best every day.
Children and teenagers should be given the permission to not always do their best.
Kids, especially teenagers are hyper critical of themselves and others. This is part of the differentiation and individuation maturation process of sorting out who they are. I believe that not meeting the expectations of parents can lead them to feel shame, frustration, and discontent with themselves. This can then lead to greater discouragement and less motivation to succeed.
I am going to make a bold statement that it is better to discuss with kids how inner determination to push oneself can vary day to day and hour to hour than saying “Just do your best.”
The more we can understand what motivates us, and accept when we are feeling discouraged and discuss these feelings, the more our family can learn how to support each other during these low motivation and energy times.
I have thoughts on how this conversation could go with a teenager that I’ll share in another post.
What do you think about this post? Is it scary to let go of pushing your kids on a daily basis? Do you not feel confident that they can find their own inner motivation?
Before you can have open dialogue with a teenager, you’ll need to know how to stop blocking communication. Start getting this information by reading my post Why Won’t My Child Share Their Problems with Me?
I also encourage you to read more about emotional intelligence by reading Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman
©2015 Cynthia Klein, Bridges 2 Understanding, has been a Family Success Coach since 1994. She works with parents and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking and private parenting coaching sessions. She writes the Middle School Mom column for the Parenting on the Peninsula magazine. She works with parents of 4 – 25 year-old children. Contact Cynthia at bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com or 650. 679.8138 to have a complementary discovery session about finding solutions to your challenges.