Consequences of Putting Too Much Pressure on Children

Putting too much pressure on children brings negative consequences and distances them emotionally. Keep reading to learn more.
Consequences of Putting Too Much Pressure on Children
María José Roldán

Written and verified by the psychopedagogue María José Roldán.

Last update: 12 May, 2023

Parents will always want their children to be happy and excel in everything they do. They want them to feel the satisfaction of doing well or achieving goals and winning trophies. However, many adults think that if they pressure children and push them to do better or strive beyond their real ability, they’ll be able to achieve great results.

In reality, pushing children too hard can lead to unintended consequences. Ideally, a balance should be struck between the emotional, physical, and academic parts. In this way, the child won’t feel the demands that could cause serious problems both in the present and in the future.

You should know that perfection doesn’t exist at any stage of life, much less in childhood. This is the stage in which children have to be children and nothing else! Therefore, it’s very important to be flexible in education and not pressure children.

More pressure, better performance?

Many parents believe that their children will have a promising future, even if their childhood or emotional well-being is currently being put at risk. In this regard, their motto is that today’s suffering is a sure benefit for tomorrow.

This is a flaw that must be solved at the societal level. The reality is that many children are subjected to high pressures that they’re not able to withstand or even manage adequately. Having high expectations of children doesn’t have to be a bad thing, as long as neither their childhood nor their emotional well-being is sacrificed.

Instead, when parents pressure children because of their own frustrated dreams, that’s when things can become unhealthy. In these cases, adults are trying to imprint their own failures on their children.

A father helping his son learn to play soccer.
Children should know how to make their own decisions for and by themselves, rather than doing so to satisfy their parents’ desires.

Know the consequences of putting too much pressure on children

Of course, when you pressure children too much, there are serious consequences. No matter the area of pressure (be it academic, athletic, or artistic, among others), the consequences can show up when you least expect it and negatively affect both their present life and their future. Take note:

  • Introversion and insecurity. Children think they aren’t important enough or worthy of love if they’re not perfect.
  • Stress. This condition due to high expectations and pressure can lead to behavioral problems and chronic anxiety. When there’s too much stress, angry behavior, depression, loneliness, and stomach problems can appear, among others.
  • Continuous anger. A child who’s always angry because they’re not happy with the life they lead. Also, they may experience resentment because they feel constantly humiliated for not achieving the goals they’re asked to achieve.
  • Low self-esteem. They have no motivation to do things because they do it for others and not for themselves. This makes them feel a great lack of autonomy, which ends in low self-esteem.
  • Mental disorders. Continuous sadness can lead to severe mental disorders such as depression.
  • Risk of suicide. Because of the depression that pressure can provoke, there may be a certain risk of suicide due to never feeling sufficiently fulfilled or satisfied.
  • Low importance is placed on effort. When parents only care about the results and not about the effort made, children may look for alternatives to achieve those goals, even if they’re not the right ones. A clear example is when they cheat on exams. In that case, they only seek to get a good grade to be worthy of their parents’ love, because no one values their effort.
  • Anticipated frustration. When the pressure is too high, children are likely to feel anticipatory pressure. The goal is to be perfect at something, so they may feel frustrated before they even try. They think that sometimes it’s not even worth the effort if they can’t be the best they can be.
A mother looking over her teen daughter's shoulder while she looks at her tablet.
Some parents believe that the more pressure in their child’s life, the better their results will be. However, this has negative consequences for the child.

Why do we pressure children?

It’s important that, in addition to the consequences, we know why this pressure from parents to children occurs. This way, if it happens to you, you’ll be able to relax your mind a little more and be less intransigent with your children. Normally, when parents put pressure on their children, it may be because they think that the search for perfection is necessary to achieve success. However, they forget that the most important thing in life is to enjoy it.

Children need your time and affection

Demanding parents don’t take into account the wishes and interests of their children. They set the guidelines to follow without thinking about the children’s abilities, skills, or what they really want. So, they’re authoritarian and intransigent and seek to have their children’s lives well controlled. If you’re too demanding, keep in mind that children aren’t adults and that they need your time and affection.

Therefore, you must allow and respect their own tastes and interests. Forcing them to do things they don’t really like will only alienate them emotionally from you.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Bilbao, A. (2015) El cerebro del niño explicado a los padres. Editorial: Plataforma Actual

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.