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Good Housekeeping
Jennifer Chan, Assistant Managing Editor
March 19, 2012

Kids Under Too Much Pressure Are Less Likely to Do Well in School

These children may be so afraid of failing they end up hesitating in the face of more difficult lessons. By Jennifer Chan
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How far will you go to make sure your kids succeed? If you find yourself exerting extra pressure on them so that they will excel in school, then you’re not the only one. Parents generally want to best for their children. Unfortunately, according to a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, placing too much importance on academic success can actually hamper your kids’ advancement

To discover just how kids are affected by the pressure to do well in school, researchers gave 111 French sixth graders a set of difficult anagram problems that nobody could solve. Afterward, one group was told that the problems were indeed difficult and that failure in that area was common. Another group was not talked to about the difficulty level of the exam. Instead, they were simply asked how they tried to solve the problems. Then, all of the participants were made to take a test that measured working memory capacity—an accurate predictor of cognitive ability. Results? Those who were given encouragement and were told that learning was difficult scored better than the other group.

To validate the results, researchers conducted another experiment following the same scenario except for a third group which was made to take a simpler anagram test. This new group was not given words of encouragement or assurance. When tested for their working memory capacity, those who were told that failure was common scored better than even those who aced the easier exam. The last experiment measured for the children’s reading comprehension. The students were also asked how they felt about their own competence. Those who generally felt good about themselves did better on the test as well.

From the results of these three experiments, it looks like some parents can stand to learn a few things too. For one, kids do better when they’re not too pressured to do well. They need to be told that learning can be challenging at times, though that doesn’t mean they should give up altogether. Lastly, kids with high confidence levels get better grades. As parents, you have the ability to help your kids excel in their academics. By understanding where they’re coming from and by providing full support, you can expect better grades and perhaps a better relationship with your children as well. 


Help your kids with their studies without going overboard with these tips:

 

(Photo by kakisky via morguefile.com)

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Jennifer Chan
Assistant Managing Editor
Jennifer Chan was a contributing writer for Female Network for two years before formally joining the team as a staff writer in July 2012... Read more...
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