'It's not the
winning, it's the taking part' is easier said than done sometimes, and
that's as true for parents as much as it is for children.
Most parents naturally want their child to succeed, and it's normal to want to do all you can to help them to do so. But it's a fine line between encouragement and interference: at what point does your encouragement make you a pushy parent?
Don't get carried away
Anne, a dance teacher and mum of a swimming-pro son, often notices parents at the galas pushing the boundaries of healthy encouragement. "The things they shout are just plain embarrassing – you just cringe for their children, who feel their efforts aren’t good enough." Some children can’t bear their parents supporting them at sports competitions whatsoever, with some even keeping the event a secret until it's over.
Don't compete with other parents
If you find you are concerned that your child’s achievements may affect your reputation or reflect badly on you, then your priorities are in the wrong place.
Don't try to bribe them
It isn’t uncommon for parents to offer their children rewards for achieving certain goals. Mum of three teenage girls Julie, 46, shared that she would give her daughters monetary incentives to achieve A grades at secondary school. While some may see this as healthy encouragement, others view it as plain bribery.
The competition between parents to offer their child the biggest prize is also common, with Julie adding that her daughters said they would try harder if they knew they would be better rewarded than their peers. This is incentivising gone wrong, as the children are losing focus of what matters.
Do let them set their own targets
Letting your children set their own goals, timescales and rewards could be your way to avoid pushy-parent-syndrome. Rather than dictating to them, compromise and discover your child’s needs. Everyone learns differently and we are all motivated by different things, so find what suits your child to optimise their motivation without exerting pressure.
Let them realise their own mistakes instead of criticising them. For example, if it’s time management issues they lack then they need to face the consequences and learn themselves, even if that includes a telling off from their teacher.
Finally, avoid hovering close by while they study or rehearse as this gives them opportunity to doubt themselves – give them independence by letting them come to you instead.