According to educator Anjali Hazari, unrealistic parental pressure for a teen to succeed is the most common cause of stress among students.
Parents aren’t the only ones guilty of putting pressure on teens. You may experience pressure to succeed from teachers or faculty members. A friend may force you into a competition over grades or sports. Siblings may try to push you harder. It doesn’t matter who is applying the pressure, except that you want to make them happy, and your desire to please them is stressing you out.
If you’re feeling pressure from other people, and it’s impacting your life, there are a few techniques you can use to release the strain:
Realise it’s probably not about you
When people you care about put unrealistic expectations on you, it often has nothing to do with you at all and everything to do with something going on in your own life. Perhaps your dad feels as though he didn’t get opportunities in school and he doesn’t want you to make the same mistakes. Maybe your friend is struggling to please her own parents and so she competes with you as a way to make herself feel better. Your teacher or coach may be under pressure to lift grades or to look good in front of colleagues.
Knowing that something isn’t about you can make it easier to endure. However, that might not be enough to help you deal.
Confront them about their actions
The people who put pressure on your do it because they care about you. Sometimes they can’t see how their words and actions affect you – that’s why it’s important to tell them.
You don’t have to get into a screaming argument about it. Instead, take some time to carefully write down how their actions have impacted you. Try this formula, “When you do (action), it makes me feel (feeling).” For example, “When you get upset with me because I didn’t get an A, it makes me feel as if the only time I please you is when I make good grades.” Avoid absolutes – “You always do this!” because it deflects the conversation away from the point you’re trying to make.
If possible, present a plan of action for how to improve the relationship. Ask for what you need. Present it as a way to improve your performance. “What I really need is some quiet time for two hours in the evening to study. I’ll be working hard during that time. But outside of that, I’d like to relax and not think about schoolwork, so if would could avoid talking about exams over dinner, I’d really appreciate it.”
Impossible expectations and pressure can have a negative impact on your studies, sports, and social life – so find a way to manage the problem and help others to see how their behaviour might hurt you. You need to confront the problem or it will continue.