High-pressure parenting can have detrimental effects on children, a new survey warns, pointing to the prevalence of problems such as depression and social anxiety among over-stressed kids.
Parents must realize that putting undue pressure on children in relation to academic performance or other things could prove counter-productive, according to the study from The Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service.
Unveiling the findings of a survey entitled “Parental Emotions and Children Development”, the community welfare group said there is cause for worry about parenting practices in Hong Kong.
Children of over-anxious and pushy parents were more prone to depression and other emotional disorders, the survey found.
For the survey, researchers from Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service interviewed 130 pairs of parents and their children.
Most of the parents had an education level of secondary school, while their children’s average age was 11.5, Sing Tao Daily reports.
Of the 130 couples, 46 were found to be very anxious about their children’s school results.
Taking the over-anxious parents as a group, the survey found that over half of the children from this group were found to have problems with academics and social life and on matters of discipline.
Seventy percent of children whose parents adopted high-pressure tactics were found to have disciplinary issues, such as lying.
Comparatively, only 28 percent of children from the more liberal parents had disciplinary issues.
Scarlet Poon, an official who oversees the social service organization’s Integrated Community Centre for Mental Wellness, pointed out that some parents tend to yell or show anger when they are unhappy about something in their kids, rather than try to understand the issues.
Parents should realize that adopting such approach will actually worsen the situation in the kids, she said.
Poon suggested that parents should adopt the 3B4A tactics (3 breaths, Aware, Accept, Analysis, Action) tactic to calm themselves before talking to children and help them attend to the issues.
Researchers cited the case of a 24-year-old woman, who is the only daughter in her family, who has suffered from depression after facing enormous pressure when she was young.
The woman, who bears the surname Sze, recalled that her mother would scold her when she “only” got 98 marks in dictation when she was young.
Her mother even made a small corner table in the toilet so Sze could “make the most of her time to prepare for dictations,” news website the hk01.com reports.
Immense pressure led her into depression a few months before she had to take a public examination.
She did poorly in the exam and hence couldn’t get into a university.
Sze said she always quarreled with her parents but each time she would blame herself for the problem and not talk to the elders.
She has recovered after medication but there are still some lingering issues.
“I have changed six jobs in five years. I didn’t have the confidence that I can do my job well even when I got a promotion. So I just kept changing jobs.”
Following her experience, Sze says she hopes parents will let children live a less pressured life, giving them more rewards and freedom.
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