Academic stress. Those two words describe a big minefield when it comes to parenting. How can parents and educators instill and support a love of learning, while downplaying messages of competition and conditional approval?
A few years back, a friend’s five year old announced he planned on attending Harvard. I was half amused, and half horrified. Who had been asking this child which college he was considering? It’s one thing to have goals, another altogether to send kids the message that success comes in only one color, shape or Ivy League school.
Welcome to our thirteenth episode of Raising Humans, a podcast about parenting with emotional intelligence. In this show, we bring you an interview May Duong conducted with Ethan, a college-bound senior in the middle of college application stress mode.
Ethan talks about how he has navigated the stresses of planning for his future education, without losing sight of the intrinsic joys of learning and exploring life in the present. Not an easy balancing act.
So much attention these days is placed on getting good grades, to get into the right school, to get the highest paying job, that parents and students can lose sight of the present. It can effect the parent-child relationship and the child’s sense of their own worth if too much emphasis is placed on grades, money, and status, as opposed to passion, drive, and unconditional love.
The academic stress on young people can be so intense, in some cases it leads to depression and even suicide, and at the very least, a constant state of low anxiety and insecurity about the future.
How can the wisdom of emotional intelligence help parents and students avoid this trap? What can parents do to minimize the harmful messages, and build intrinsic motivation in their children for learning?
Ethan talks of parents pressuring kids to choose an extracurricular activity or club, not because their child likes that activity, but because it will look good on a college application. Parents can support their students by helping them appreciate their current strengths and passions, and their social and emotional skills, as opposed to weighing their self-worth based on the status of the college they get into.