A Quarterly Newsletter to Help You Find A Smarter Path Through Life

Fall 2008

Vol. IV, Issue 1

The Ambitious Parent
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What happens when parents behave in an overeager manner to urge their children to excel in sports, music, or other extra-curricular activities?  What does it do to a child when parents demand that their child be "the best"?  

  1. Every human is born with a desire to become independent.  A child, wishing to develop independence, will rebel against efforts to make/mold him into what the parents want instead of what the child wants to learn or to become.

  2. The child will insist either verbally or more likely through his/her actions that he/she will not be controlled by a person outside of him/herself.

  3. The parents set themselves up as judge and jury and the parents’ words and actions appear to be condemning and judgmental to the child.  It leaves the child with the idea that nothing he/she can do will ever please the parents - SO WHY TRY!

  4. Nonverbal actions will affect the child’s self-esteem just as much as words - i.e. looks of exasperation or disgust.

  5. The child learns only to compete, not to enjoy the game.  It removes any sense of joy and pleasure from his/her participation.

  6. The child may retreat into a mechanical world (video games/computers) because the mechanical world does not make demands, judge, or condemn him for not being good enough.

If you want your child to be susceptible to drugs (to numb out the pain of never feeling good enough, of feeling like a failure), then insist that he be "the best".  If you want your child to do the opposite of everything you want, then insist that he be "the best”.  If you want your child to avoid you to escape the pressure, then put on/add to the pressure. 

Using words of encouragement is the wisest course of action, saying something like the following:

  • "I’m confident you'll do the best you can."   
  • "I want you to learn/enjoy the game." 
  • "By practicing, you'll learn to enjoy the game more because gradually you will learn the basic skills that make for a better player.”
  • “If you decide you don’t like it, that’s fine, too.  At least you’ve had experience with it.”

Better is not the same as best.   Better means competition against self, not others.  Praise the better, praise the improvement.

Ruth Fowler, M.Ed., LPC, MCC

For more information, contact:

Ruth G. Fowler, M.Ed., LPC
955 Dairy Ashford, Suite 105
Houston, Texas 77079
Office: 281.759.5991
Cell: 713.502.1996
Fax: 281.759.5991
E-Mail: ruth@positivedirections.net






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