Parents Can Make It Even More Stressful For Students

Please don’t stress out about this article.

It turns out that high school students would prefer if their parents were filled with positivity, love and encouragement rather than stressing about results.

While it certainly seems odd that students would prefer their parents to NOT be absolute stress-machines filling them with fear, dread and worry that if they mess up an exam their lives are doomed - it’s true.

A report from the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth surveyed 93 students from years 10, 11 and 12 around Australia found it to be the case.

The report was titled Please Say You’re Proud of Me, which does make it seem like they had a very serious chat with their dad right after issuing the report. “SEE DAD, PARENTS ARE STRESSFUL” you can almost hear them yelling down a phone line.

The report found that students don’t want their parents to issue demands to work harder and to do better. They want their parents to be understanding of how stressful exams and study can be, and to offer empathy and practical guidance. Also, a milkshake would be nice too. The milkshake isn’t in the report, but it couldn’t hurt.

In the report which isn’t titled Yeah, No Kidding, Kids Don’t Like Pressure From Their Parents, the lead author Alasdair Roy says that “students still very much want the love, approval and encouragement of their parents, and need to know that parents were proud of them and their efforts.”

If you’re a parent and you’re trying your best right now to not tell your child that their entire future is riding on their next exam result you could try the following things:

Be positive and say how proud you are of them. And then when they say “what are you talking about? Are you being sarcastic?” say “no, I’m not being sarcastic, I think you’re working really hard and are doing a good job.”

Tell them you love them no matter what and that if they need help you’re always there, and no, they can’t have some money.

Practical guidance is key. Don’t pretend to understand math and then get stuck trying to explain math to them and make the whole situation much, much worse.

Encourage them and support them in following their own aspirations, and don’t keep saying “why don’t you become a circus person, like me?” because that will just put too much pressure on them to join the circus with you when they maybe don’t like the circus and instead want to become an accountant.