Family pressures for academic success impacts students mental health

 With the growing competition of getting into the most selective schools, scholarships and many other opportunities, it is important for many students to maintain a good GPA, do well on their SAT/ACT and get involved in after school activities. Excessive rates of stress due to school-related factors is nothing new. 

   A survey done once a year by Higher Education Research asks incoming college students if they feel overwhelmed by the amount of work they have to do. In 2016, 41% of students said “yes” compared to 28% in 2000 and 18% in 1985.

       Parental pressure can be one of the leading factors to high levels of stress in teens. Pressure from a parent that has high expectations and expects academic success at all times can cause the student to feel overwhelmed and change their mindset. 

      One may think, “If I don’t get this A, mom is going to yell and punish me.” Rather than doing well for one’s self, pressure from a parent may change a student’s attitude in that they are only willing to succeed in school to make their parents proud. 

       “I know that for me and others the pressure can be difficult and cause a negative impact on the students’ academic ability,” sophomore Natalia Cichon said.

       Although some may argue that pressure is vital for a student to be capable of performing well because it pushes them to do their absolute best and motivates them to do more, this isn’t entirely true. As stated by VeryWellFamily, a website that specializes in parenting advice, too much pressure on a child causes higher rates of mental illness, sleep deprivation, higher risks of injuries and increased likelihood of cheating on tests. 

      According to social worker Roger Mills, for a lot of parents it is important to save money so they encourage their child to load up on  AP courses and take the AP exam. Mills notices a problem with this because it discourages teenagers from being able to enjoy their high school experiences like sports, clubs and dances because they are worked up from excessive amounts of school work. 

      “Some students do well under pressure, but I don’t think a lot of pressure is good for a student,” Mills said. “It can cause them to develop anxiety, which if left untreated can turn into depression and cause bad things to happen.”

       Of course parents should still be mindful of how their child is doing in school. In an attempt to make sure their kid is on top of their school work, they could try and establish a given time for when their child should let go of their distractions and focus on homework and studying. 

   “[Parents] should also try to understand that there’s a lot of struggles with being a high school student and not everything students do is going to be perfect,” Cichon said. 

     Everyone wants to succeed in life and have a successful future, but the stress from wanting to do well for not only ourselves but our parents as well shouldn’t consume us. 

   Stanford’s Challenge Success survey, given to 10,275 high school students across the U.S. shows that 10-20 years ago it was usually divorce, bullying, family problems or sexual identity that caused stress amongst teens, compared to now where school is on top of that list.

    “I think that the pressure affects us negatively and causes us students to stress out a lot over small tests because we believe that if we don’t succeed in one test, it’s over,” sophomore Diana Gaucin said. 

    According to the O’Connor Professional Group for teen mental health, the best ways to deal with academic stress is to budget your time accordingly, reward yourself for any progress made, and most importantly, ask for help and be able to move on from past mistakes. 

   Parents can also be more mindful about how they can help their high school student be successful moving forward, without stressful amounts of pressure. A lot of pressure can be harmful to a teenager’s mental health and how they see themselves. 

    “We all have our different coping mechanisms, for some it may be sports, and for others it may simply be deep breathing,” Gaucin said, “I think parents can also help out by having a set time for their kid to do their schoolwork, maybe taking away their phone for an hour.”