Science proves that children who are raised in a very authoritative way end up with low self-esteem, resort to bullying, can even become victims of depression. Many also suffer from weight problems and have problems regulating themselves.
A mental health counselor once asked teenagers to write down a line they would write to their parents. She asked them not to mention ordinary things, but what they wish their parents knew about them. Some of the answers were
I try very hard
Please don’t scold me so much
I wish you would listen to me sometimes too
I get scared when you call me
Please stop nagging
Many parents were then shown these answers and their reactions were quite shocking. Some of them said, “They’re preparing their child for the big, bad world,” others said, “They’re pushing kids for their own good.” Mother of two, Smita Arora, says, “We were all brought up in a strict environment where we were expected to do what our parents expected, and asking them back was never an option. Our children will be weak if we let them have their way and let them choose for themselves!”
We all know that teenage suicide is increasing, and anxiety, depression is increasing at an alarming rate. Peer pressure, social media exposure is enough to make your child feel stressed and anxious, but if they don’t feel emotionally safe in their own homes, it can lead to a lot of psychological stress and trauma.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one parent whose child is undergoing therapy for depression said: “My daughter was a top scorer. I kept telling her that she makes me proud. But then her grades started to drop and I felt like a failure. I started pushing her and telling her that she is not trying hard enough. She was, but I didn’t see it. Exam time turned into a nightmare for both of us. I turned my beautiful bright daughter into a terrorized person. Her grades dropped further. She began to withdraw, stopped talking to her friends. That’s when we sought help and found out she had gone into depression.”
We as parents are forever trying to perfect our children. We want them to excel academically, and we also want them to be exceptional in sports, dance or any other extracurricular activity. In the process, we end up strangling them of their free time. Most coaches actually ask parents to back off – they don’t want parents yelling at their kids to perform.
A math coach I recently hired for my daughter would encourage her to do better by applauding even the small concepts she got right. I thought it was unnecessary at first, but soon I saw that she enjoyed mathematics and found joy in solving the simplest questions. I soon realized that my nagging wasn’t helping her in anyway. She sat with a book to please (or calm) me, not because she liked what she was doing.
In short, the effect you have on your children should be more about the trusting relationship you share with them than because of the authority you impose on them or the times you reprimand them. Sometimes when you see your child pushing you away, they are actually fighting for space to shape their identity. Giving children choices helps them feel that they have some power and control over their lives and is seen as a big step towards growing up to be a confident and independent person.