The Unlikely Art of Parental Pressure with Dr. Hank Weisinger, New York Times Bestselling Author and Psychologist
A world-renowned psychologist, Dr. Hank Weisinger is the Author of the New York Times Bestseller Performing Under Pressure and his most recent book that we focus on in this episode is The Unlikely Art of Parental Pressure. Dr. Hank has also written several other books including Emotional Intelligence at Work, The Power of Positive Criticism, The Genius of Instinct, the New York Times Bestseller Nobody’s Perfect.
He has spent three decades helping individuals and organizations enhance their personal and work effectiveness through innovative applications of clinical, counseling, social, organizational, and evolutionary psychology. He is a popular blogger for PsychologyToday.com, Huffington Post, Execunet.com, and Lifehack.org.
In this interview, Hank and I discuss:
- What is pressure and when we experience it
- How parents can unintentionally put pressure on their children
- How we can be supportive parents and leaders instead of pressure parents and leaders
Cindra Kamphoff: Dr. Weisinger, I’m so excited that you’re here today to join us on the high performance mindset podcast I had you on several years ago, where we are talking about your book performing under pressure, which is still one of my favorite books I referenced all the time, and today we’re going to be talking about the unlikely art of parental pressure, so thank you so much for joining us on the podcast.
Hendrie Weisinger: Thank you for having me I’m very happy to be here.
Cindra Kamphoff: I absolutely love your book and I’m really excited to talk with you today so maybe for those people who aren’t as familiar with your work as I am tell us a bit about what you’ve been doing recently.
Hendrie Weisinger: Okay, well, I am a psychologist and for the last two years I’ve been working on the subject of parental pressure and, as you mentioned I’d written a book called performing under pressure, so I thought, a good follow up would be a book for parents on helping your kids handle pressure, for example when they’re getting ready for a sporting event or when they’re taking their safeties or when they’re having a music recital, but then I had a flash of genius when that varsity blues cheating scandal.
Cindra Kamphoff: Ah.
Hendrie Weisinger: I started to say forget the kids The real issue is the parents. I didn’t look at the subject of parental pressure. Reading a lot doing a lot of quote field, research, I live in a environment where there are a lot of young parents, so they were you know any psychologist would take advantage of you know of that and started to pour me like the premise that there are some kids who are very successful be in sports or theater or straight academics and they have really good mental health and there are other teens young adults who may or may not be successful, but they often have severe mental health issues ranging from anxiety disorders to eating disorders substance abuse depression and unfortunately suicide. And when you look at those two groups. We found my co-author and I Dr Chris Thurber. That a significant difference between the two was how they experience the pressure put upon them by their parents and when we started looking at those differences, we found differences in three key areas. Okay, one was how parents communicate with their kids specifically with criticism questions and praise pressure parents, as we will start to call them use those tools differently than what we will call support parents, we found the second area of difference was in parental involvement, now the rule of thumb. Just very quickly is that if it’s the right amount of involvement your kids will say that you are supportive if it’s too much involvement, they will call you intrusive. And a lot of it has to do, which we can. Talk about a little bit the idea of respecting your kids boundaries so pressure parent will think nothing of it, of picking up their kids falling and looking through the text messages or going into their room without knocking. And finally, the third difference we found was in the area of parental involvement not involved I’m sorry parental warm want current parental one. Now, one of the things we found is that pressure parents often set up their parent child relationship like it is a sports contract we’re going to have incentives in but you only get them if you perform will have this clause in this clause in and so on, rather than support parents who are not accepting of everything and approving of everything their son or daughter does, but they are emotionally. Accepting and we call that parental warmth, that is not unconditional acceptance that does not mean that you have to like everything your kid does, but it does mean that you do not withdraw a love based on how they are performing. Yeah it yeah and within those three areas. The other one quick point I want to make is, we found that there were certain attributes about a pressure parent and here’s The funny thing, these are all well intentioned parents.
Cindra Kamphoff: Exactly that’s what I’m thinking about me I’m always well intended. Am I putting pressure on my kids without realizing it or meaning to.
Hendrie Weisinger: that’s a good observation, because that’s what we find happens and I’m I’ve been guilty I’m sure of the of the same thing we inadvertently put pressure on our kids and we think we are helping them. When actually one of the findings, I found in my last book is that nobody does better under pressure nobody’s rising to the occasion, a parent can yell at their C student in any format, whether it’s encouragement whatever. What, for the rest 80s, but if their teen is a C student they’re not getting 1600 on the rest 80s, unless they cheat. And we’ll talk about that this in a few minutes I just found some interesting research that shows. That parents who encouraged their kids and really put pressure on them to excel in sports are increasing the chances that their son or daughter will start to juice up because they want to succeed, they.
Cindra Kamphoff: Go oh wow. They want to go through every cost, to be able to do everything.
Hendrie Weisinger: Because, as we see if they don’t succeed, then they feel the parents will disapprove and will not love them, and there are many examples fiction and nonfiction I will reference in the sports world that clearly show that to be true. So what we found is that pressure parents and I want parents who are listening to think what do they bring to the table in terms of how their parent their son or daughter, and one of the things we found is that it starts with pressure parents view the world as a scarcity of opportunities. You know you only get to try for the Olympics every four years, so you better really trade and do your best and there were only eight Ivy league schools, so the fact that there is scarcity of opportunity leads into a set of they become very competitive and they teach their kids that it’s not you don’t have to just be, as you know, keep up with your friends, you have to beat them, and the reason we have to beat them is that there’s just a few opportunities. Many people, by the way think that competition is healthy competition does not bring out the best in people, it brings out actually the worst in people, competition is why kids cheap competition is why. People in business, many times will sales, people will fake results and whatever because they want bonuses and so on there’s a lot of bad things about. Competition and I know you’re aware that and we’ll talk about the idea of personal best versus. A mindset of excellence versus a ranking mindset and what competitive parents do is they put their. Their kid on that competitive track where they’re always comparing themselves to other people, so no matter what they do it’s never good enough, which gets into the third attribute that pressure parents have, which is perfectionism. The kid who was under a lot of pressure will hear a lot of times that’s really good. But they’ll also here, but it could be better. It was a baseball player, when I was growing up so we’re going back to the late 50s and early 60s, maybe you’ve heard of him his name was Jimmy Peirsol. He was on the Boston Red Sox and he was great, but what we did not know, is he was bipolar Okay, we didn’t know about that at the top medications and with depression. And so, he would do these crazy like run the bases backwards get into incessant arguments all the time people just thought he was putting on a show us crazy which he was, but the point I want to make. One of the and they made a movie out of it with Anthony Perkins who also played Norman bates and psycho and Karl Malden who many of your viewers might know from the streets of San Francisco. So there’s a scene, right at the beginning, where they’re practicing his sliding so the kids slides and his father, he says that’s a good slide Jimmy but yeah if it was a good throw you would have been out yeah just leave it that it was a good slot and inevitably there’s a scene, where the kid hits a home run. And after he circles, the basis, he jumps up on the fence behind the catcher and he starts yelling it to his father is that good enough it’s not good enough and have to take a more fulfilled that that was a true a true that’s one of the things in the extreme, of course, because there are good ways as we’ll see to put parental purchase.
Cindra Kamphoff: yeah Henry what a great way to start, I mean really lots of value you’ve already provided for us I’m thinking about these three ways, you know. That it shows up in the way that people parents and I’m thinking about myself, of course, I have two boys 14 and 12 and it’s hard to know. For me, even, as you know, someone trained as a PhD in sports psychology exactly how much to my what am I pushing them too much and holding them to the standard of excellence and there was one thing that you said about. The difference between you know supportive parents versus those that provide a lot of pressure they communicate with their kids differently with their criticism questions and praise, can you give us some specific.
Hendrie Weisinger: Examples of that so in terms of criticism pressure parents who use criticism to point out the flaws. What the person is doing wrong. So the father after literally game might say I can’t believe you let that ground ball go through your legs you learn three runs and you, you blew the game, whereas the other parent support parrot might say hey next time there’s a ground ball hits you just bend down and block it simply. And the idea of next flies. That you’re going to get another chance see one of the other characteristics that pressure. Perry do is they go they make everything, the most important. So the teen athlete from a pressure parent will hear that every practice is the most important practice where we’re going to have. Every event is the most important event every test is the most important test I can’t even remember the 100 most important tests that I have taken I’m sure when you were in school, especially in Grad school. You get that mindset this is the most important thing is going to change my life and yada yada and you can even remember, so you think in terms of how everything’s, the most important there’s just a few opportunities, you have to be better than everybody else, and not only get to be better when you have to be perfect, otherwise you won’t be better than everybody else and. A sense of urgency that you got to do everything now. So the pressure parent will say. On the first day of Christmas vacation you better start on your applications now. Or the you better get that extra practice said you better you better do it now go now because the gym might be closed, and you know closing early and so on. So imagine if you had somebody standing over you were they telling you everything you do this is the most important thing is how to be better it’s got to be perfect and you got to do it now you start to go nuts and that’s exactly what happens to many of these teams. And that is called clinically hothousing it’s like it’s becomes relentless. And you know and important points in Europe is you can’t get away from. Pressure because it has evolutionary utility pressure first is a force visit it’s a physical entity. And that’s how I want parents to think of it that you have this force that is inherent in every parent child relationship, when I say parental pressure is a global pandemic that is not hyperbole, that there are studies conducted all over the world in everything be in sports academic performing arts, such as music I’m talking about studies from the UK Australia Germany Lithuania Czechoslovakia China, which is 10 times worse than the US in terms of parental pressure. And it’d be results are always the same, so the fact that it is global, we know that must mean that it’s an inherited force. And when it’s used effectively the teen experiences that as guidance as support as motivation as encouragement, rather than being pressed upon an important point about parental pressure like you can say as a parent I don’t put parental pressure on my kids. But if the kids say you do, then you do. In other words, topic, everything is defined point of View. Because they are the one who is experiencing, so I remember, I once said to my kids who in the family, would you say you know this is me versus my wife at the time, gets angry, the most and when they said me.
Cindra Kamphoff: Yes.
Hendrie Weisinger: He said how can you say I get angry I you crazy it started yeah. So one of the things I would suggest to parents is to ask their kids how they come across do you feel I’m putting a lot of pressure on you now, a problem for that, especially if it is a pressure parent the kid will be afraid to respond truthfully.
Cindra Kamphoff: Right.
Hendrie Weisinger: Because you’re afraid the parent will yell scream get angry again, and you have to remember when you are a young child seven or eight years old and the parent shows disapproval, how does the seven year old process that information it’s not my mother loves me or my father loves me. Yes, just the opposite, which is why many times young very young children will distort the truth it’s about they want to protect themselves and they want to feel. Secure with their with their parents and again that the great irony is, these are well intentioned praise is another one, so you know the. This would be like I watched my son in a game, and I said we go home and stay in the car and they say okay you played well now that that’s is that praise, but is it effective no because it’s like your boss saying good job, what does that mean.
Cindra Kamphoff: Right it’s not very specific.
Hendrie Weisinger: directly, I mean how many times you do you do a presentation and somebody comes up to you, so Dr Cindy that was that was a great presentation, but they never tell me why. Right, so he the parent who says Oh, you really played well, I really liked the way that you play Defense in that third quarter, you had some really good blocks and so on. Now he knows you are really watching yeah questions is that is, that is another one. When we’re pressure parents will use questions to interrogate What did you do at school, what are you playing with what you get on the test. Whereas support parents will use questions to help the child articulate their thoughts and their feelings tell me what you think about this I’m curious about how you feel about this. One of the tips I would give parents and the reason is, you want your kid to self disclose self disclosing means that. The person is revealing their thoughts and feelings and the parents should think what are the things that they self disclose most parents, for example, do not self self disclose to their. Friends my son got a D on the chemistry tests, but they will certainly self disclose about their kid my son got an A on the chemistry test how many parents have you met that come up to you and say I just saw the entire my kid blue that I share with my kid blue the game, but if the kid the winning touchdown or something they are the parents talking about that you want your child to self disclose it will make it easier for them to. When they’re under stress and pressure to talk about their feelings. And one of the ways to parents can help do that. Is by talking about their own feelings.
Cindra Kamphoff: And they’re wondering, Dr Henry like is there. I love all this so far and I’m curious, is it continuum between pressure parents and supportive parents, because I’m thinking about that maybe there are times, where we might put pressure on you know our kids and not really even realize it.
Hendrie Weisinger: Yes, that’s a great point, and there is a continuum and I always like to say, you can be on drive on the left side of the street, which would be the pressure straight or you can drive on the right side. Of the street oh I’ll give you some different things, but that point about anytime you tell your child, but this is really important. Even though we’re doing it as a reminder we’re thinking, I want to remind them this is important, so they will study and so on it’s like the parents say this is really important game and it’s a championship game there’s a parent think your kid doesn’t know that.
Cindra Kamphoff: Right is they know that.
Hendrie Weisinger: The more important you may something the more pressure you experience and therefore. The worst you do, I am sure that you can give many examples of athletes when you’re talking to them who tell you it’s just another game.
Cindra Kamphoff: Right, even the super bowl that’s I’ll say.
Hendrie Weisinger: And this is what the media hates to hear. Sure, because the media is that I can you say it’s just another game it’s a super bowl and so on. But they don’t realize, why would they if they got to the super bowl Why would they do anything different on that. They just have to keep on doing, and they want to minimize the importance so it’s just another it’s just another day if I do my best, we have a great chance of winning so that’s one of the ways we inadvertently that that’s why. It goes against it’s counterintuitive but the best thing to say, to your kids is before a big sporting event it’s just another match. Yes, another test some parents will say that’s unrealistic. To say that something so important, like the state championship high school game is important, and I would say Okay, but it’s equally unrealistic to say is the defining moment of your entire life and that. You that your life is over, if you if you lose I mean you watch a year on the kind of game kind of football game and that sport that I love as a fat now that, certainly as a player is again that. The team that has the ball in the last second is going to win because then I know I’m on the edge of my seat.
Cindra Kamphoff: Like last night, we are talking about the steelers and Vikings game.
Hendrie Weisinger: Exactly you don’t want to funny they’re not bad, I don’t even want to watch and so unless is my team is wedding coming up. Because I found like I’m a big Yankee fan. World series of the Yankees are only winning by Iran I can’t eat anything because I’m so nervous. My Kansas Jayhawks they’re playing and it’s the last four minutes and they’re down by six points, I have to turn off the station. Because I can’t handle it I don’t know how the players are able to where to coach but I’m on my law beings it in my stomach because I know Kansas loses my UCLA friends are gonna call me up and then.
Cindra Kamphoff: It makes me think of like your first book where you’re talking about you know why you experienced pressure and it’s because the outcome is uncertain, but it’s important to you yeah you know what one of the things that I also want to encourage parents, because I noticed this.
Hendrie Weisinger: I was doing a lot of reading on sports parents. And one of the things I thought and the research is very consistent whether the athlete is a swimmer in Sweden or a bowler in Texas, and the big thing that the teen athlete wants from their parents is basically pay for all my training and take me to my matches. Yes, bring me a bottle of water and keep your mouth shut you’re not my coach. They don’t want and parents need to remember that. I was time I mean. The I laugh about this, but it was really sad when my son was playing soccer and I’m talking about eight years old, seven years old, so they’re just running up and down the field they’re not playing soccer and so on, all the parents and talking. They having a good time, so the first question, I would always ask my son is was it fun, and so I heard one Father say to his like seven year old as you’re walking in you’ve got to practice you’re kicking. What kind of thing is that to say that. They are right after right after the game or match. As if they are going to be a professional soccer player, I was living in Westport Connecticut and I would tell people I said. The only way your kid is going to the NFL NBA or major league baseball is as team doctor part or part time owner or the team lawyer that’s it they’re not going as a professional athlete and I have found and I’m sure you see this more than I do, is that many parents. If they want, if they are frustrated athlete they put even more pressure it’s because they’re combining their aspirations their aspirations into their expectations and that makes your expectations automatically unrealistic, I once said to my son. After a basketball game you’re like Saturday morning REC league so Danny you played wow you’re really good today, he said that I’m not good, I just like playing with my friends. That was such a great on his part. Yes, a sense of a weird he’s just enjoying this he wasn’t he wasn’t the best by far it’s just that average, but he loved it he loved playing with his friend. And that syndrome is one of the ways that I’ve seen you sports change from when I was growing up after school, if I had five kids on my block or six kids on my block so. We had three on three basketball games three on three touch football games three on three softball games and it was always fun. Today, it seems, it has changed at work, that it be, and I think a large part of that is because of the parental over involvement, because many kids, at least in one of my hometown’s or you’re not good at baseball basketball or football, but if you can play lacrosse that will get you into a better school that he would normally would and they go into these other sports soccer was unpopular when I was growing up look for us what’s in popular when I was when I was growing up. So that parent involvement has really changed the nature of sports and I think it makes it worse. For the for the kid feeling that he or she has to exceed rather than just have fun playing with your you know with your friends.
Cindra Kamphoff: I appreciate what you just said about how parents, we can connect our aspirations with our expectation and I do see that, especially in sport that parents can you know, maybe they didn’t reach their own expectations, they can put that on the kids. Henry you talk in the book about what you describe as healthy pressure versus harmful pressure and I’m curious about that as we’re talking about you know, providing parents with great tips.
Hendrie Weisinger: mm hmm Okay, so I said a little earlier that pressure is like a physical force it’s a physical entity and there’s different types. Like get pressure and he pressured water pressure and also, if you don’t have pressure right blood pressure in your heart think of what blood pressure, does it forces your blood through your system now the idea of healthy pressure is to take that force and think of your dancing with you are, you said you had two sons. Yes, so you’re dancing with your son and let’s say it’s you know slow, music and you’re wearing your high heels. Okay step on his foot. That will hurt.
Cindra Kamphoff: likely.
Hendrie Weisinger: If you’re dancing but you’re wearing sneakers and you step on this, but it’s still my you know you’ll feel it but it’s not gonna hurt and that’s that would be more long healthy pressure, rather than the stiletto heel of pushing down so we’re going to transform pressure so that it helps the team.
Cindra Kamphoff: Okay.
Hendrie Weisinger: For visa and the first way you start doing that is something we alluded to was expectations to when you win a pair. Parental expectations is the big bang a parental pressure nothing happens when you had your first child and you come home from the hospital. There is no pressure on him in fact it’s the other way around the baby is deciding when you sleep when you feed when he goes to the bathroom. And then, after while you start putting that child on a schedule, you will sleep during these hours you will be fed during these hours, and this is the beginning of parental pressure the. Formulating of parental expectations Now I want parents to think whether those expectations come from. To get the expectations that you have on your son, what would the expectations your parents had on you. Just because, just because the expectations for you works doesn’t mean they’re necessarily the right ones, for your son or if you had to do it, or for your daughter, when I hear my co author is the headset colleges that Phillips Exeter Academy. And when I hear that this kid is fourth generation of you know Exeter at the school My first question is, are you telling me that all three kids who wanted to go there right here, you say never, never wanted to go to school, with their friends or go to. And over or go to a private school and in California, are you are you serious someone. And that’s the parents, because the parents expectation, this is where you will go to school, this is what you will study and a lot of times it’s because what the parents. So part of the problem of making a child expectations is like the only legitimate expectation. The core parental expectation that every parent, I believe, should have because it will serve their son or daughter, the best way will help them navigate life effectively is expect them to do their best yeah, that is the most important because that’s all they can do you can’t do better than your best now what is funny is how many times have you seen her parents say okay just do your best then when the kid does his best the parent gets upset. Why is the parent upset be. Five is just do your best in this match Okay, but the best is for place, so why is the path of getting it wisely disappointed the kid did the best he could do is because the path because that’s not what the pattern really needs to parents is.
Cindra Kamphoff: So make sure when you say it you mean it well, I appreciate you talking about healthy pressure and harmful pressure and I was also thinking about in your book you talk about like. How do we spark the motivation and interest of our kids and I’m thinking about. What advice would you give to parents, because I think sometimes parents will say, well, my kid just doesn’t do want to do anything or they’re not very gritty great or they maybe have hard a hard time kind of finding their passion or.
Hendrie Weisinger: motivation for great question and here is the thing. I mean let’s get out of the you have a mother, who has a five year old daughter who’s taking her to a dance class. In the dance classes everyone inside. Now, what if the kid doesn’t want to go to the dentist Why is a mother going Oh, because she’s going to see her friends. While the kids are dancing so she’s really going to see her friends and remember if you don’t get in the car we go you’re never going to do anything or whatever, she, this is one of the ways how parents exert pressure guilt they force them manipulate Oh, you want a car you better do well or, this is what I want you to do for me and so on. So the idea here is when do you listen to your kid.
Cindra Kamphoff: yeah that’s a really good point.
Hendrie Weisinger: And I don’t know the answer to that is that is individual I will tell you one thing about pressure parents. The parent child relationship remember his interaction, just like your relationship with your marriage it’s an interaction, which means what the parent does affects the child, with the child does affects the parent. If the parents speech to their child respectfully the chances increase that the child will speak respectfully at the parent yells at the kids there’s a good chance to kid will you back, it is an interaction, it is also hierarchical. Meaning that the parent is the boss from day one, to keep the babies biologically dependent on the parent when a man and a woman meet. Now, one person might have more power, as in the case of all relationships, but we think of the person is a partner I never heard a parent say talking about their kids to live to be partners once at once 15 years you know ones, my oldest partners just graduating from college and what pressure parents do is they exploit that hierarchy. And that they use the force it see the whole as kids get older like when your when your child was three years old, you needed to help feed them correct maybe cut their need or.
Cindra Kamphoff: yeah absolutely.
Hendrie Weisinger: But when you’re 16 you don’t do that.
Cindra Kamphoff: No
Hendrie Weisinger: Because if you are still doing that.
Cindra Kamphoff: strange.
Hendrie Weisinger: Because, but you respect the natural developmental process, the natural developmental process of parent child is for the child to become more and more autonomous. One of the goals of effective parenting is to make your kid independent, so the function as an adult when you are no longer there. Pressure parents don’t like to do that because they don’t want to lose the relationship they don’t want to lose the parent, so a pressure parent says. says Okay, not only do I want to drive you to the soccer game, or the football game, but I also want to play on the team with you see that’s what it’s called eli, this is becoming a hard concept emotionally over involved parents should actually over involved mother. Not only wants to go shopping for the prom dress but they want to go to the problem with their daughter as well, and I have to tell these parents to get a life. But that’s why kids go to college empty nest syndrome welcome. On that is the parent doesn’t have a life for their interest for their own so they get so involved in the kids interest you’re always helicoptering always hovering over them. So it’s when we talk about healthy pressure, you know it’s like communication, I want to parent to go to up communication use criticism to put up your kid. Not to put down to have a dialogue rather than a monologue how many how many parents has your kids what they think, but really pay attention. Studies show that I’m going to make the decision as the parent and that’s Okay, if I at least I listened to my son or daughter, as long as the son or daughter has some type of voice in the decision making process they’re Okay, with the parent deciding and they actually feel less pressure.
Cindra Kamphoff: yeah that’s a really important point, everything that you just said, I think about my kids and sometimes how they don’t actually want to go to practice all the time right and. And we talk about well, sometimes we have to do things that are difficult and even when we’re don’t have 100% motivation and you know you’ve talked a lot about today about the importance of helping our kids do their best over winning or beating others, and I also really appreciated what you said about in the book or you said helping our kids focus on their personal best is or their competitive best made me think a lot about kind of this process over outcome right that they can control the process of how they play, but not necessarily the outcome of a winner, they lose or how that goes right yeah So how do we as parents keep.
Hendrie Weisinger: On First I want exactly because you just made a really important point, and that is a huge difference between pressure parents and support parents. Pressure parents focus on the outcome see that’s why they take they give superficial praise because they don’t really care how the kid played all they care about is did you win yeah that or they don’t really care how much you studied. Or how little you study, they just want to know, would you get on the test. And when you focus on that think of what that does, whether you are an adult or whether you are a child is you’re just you’re defining you end up defining yourself worth based on the outcome. The key is just what you said, is that you want the parent to focus on the effort, because if you focus on the effort. The kid will start to realize that there is a link between effort and outcome, and this is the beginning of taking responsibility and building confidence, otherwise, why would you study more or practice more if it’s not going to have any relationship to the outcome. And how you the by focusing on the on the process. And the effort is how you build up that mindset of excellence, I noticed that with my own trainer before I started with him I’m embarrassed to say, and this is about six months ago, I could not do a push up now, I can do 60, so I have to have like you know, two minutes in between, but they’re also really good form, and it was because he never focused on how many it was always just the effort in the process getting stronger, you know one day I said hey I can do push ups and then you realize, you can change and that’s what that growth mindset. Is and if you have a ranking mindset, it means you’re always comparing yourself to the other person. This is what many pressure parents say hi to the other kids still. You can’t control Carl Lewis, the great Olympian so. Every time he started a race. He never thought about beating the other person, because he can’t control that he just thought about getting off to a great start and running as fast as he can so that that’s one of the ways of how you transform unhealthy pressure to healthy pressure by focusing on effort in process rather than making everything dependent on the outcome.
Cindra Kamphoff: So, as we are talking about pressure parents right and sometimes we’re putting pressure on our kids without even realizing it or knowing what’s, what do you see as the ultimate impact of this our kids burning out sooner, are they dropping out are they is there mentor health, you know implications, what are you seeing.
Hendrie Weisinger: All of the above, but one thing I. The more you practice your kids to play sports or to play a musical instrument be graded chances that they will not want to do it. And that’s what I said that one of the things is that you should only have your it’s good to encourage trying something. But not forcing them to do it see some parents will say you have to finish what you start. At why to learn all the way through, and so yeah but isn’t it smart I say the fast you learn what you don’t want to do that’s just as important as following through. If I know that after to music sessions and I’m 14 that I do not want to play the violin Why am I taking 10 sessions, I already know that’s like how many times, you have to go out with somebody before you realize you never want to see him again I’ve been going on. I mean you know so again it’s that it’s giving that it’s giving that boys what we didn’t assign them.
Cindra Kamphoff: And we were just talking about the implications.
Hendrie Weisinger: Oh yeah sure we have. So, not only do we have performance issues, first of all, again, nobody does better under unhealthy pressure. In a low way parents do, that is when they say this is your biggest chance, rather than letting them know you’re going to have multiple opportunities. Because, when you say this is your only chance that intensive it makes it literally a do or die situation and you want to move away from that, so the kid because if you don’t do it then you’re left with well, then I failed and that doesn’t that feeling doesn’t help anybody. So there are other things that we can do again, you said we’re talking about. You said something really insightful and I wanted to.
Cindra Kamphoff: Get back to that, I think we were talking about process over outcome, and we are talking about how you can control your effort and then I asked about the implications if it’s.
Hendrie Weisinger: Mental health issues can tell you there are four types of anxiety disorders from unhealthy pressure, forgetting counterproductive behaviors cheating. Arguments with friends and their social relationships many times is withdrawn, then you have the big ones, the eating disorders, you have these substance abuse, I would say that every kid who is in a substance abuse Center has experienced parental pressure, I would say that every kid who had eating disorders is experiencing parental pressure, to say nothing of depression and you just can’t believe I got a hold of a bunch of diaries written from students from China. So once one student wrote. That his parents, if he gets like a 95 on a test or 90 his parents will say this is how you reward us, I said we buy you a new iPhone we do your errands and you can’t get 100. Another kid writes that walking to school used to be the greatest time. But now it’s like walking under a dark cloud console he thinks about his all the homework that he has to do as soon as he gets home demands from his parents. I mean, he put yourself in that situation and you feel at least I do, I feel sad. For these kids so that’s why I say it’s a global pandemic it’s not one or two studies it’s literally it’s hard to believe, but it’s literally hundreds of studies from around the world. Of what parental pressure brings out the worst in kids, and this is why I said I want parents that sports parents, just like they were stage parents, I said, if you want to be supportive to your son or daughter take care of the logistics, but stay out of their game, when my son was in little league I remember another parents saying the problem with little League in Westport Connecticut. Is all the fathers ruin it, because every Father can say no, a baseball expert and they start yelling and talking to the coach and it ruins it for the for the kids.
Cindra Kamphoff: yeah.
Hendrie Weisinger: i’ll tell you one thing, and this is about, I guess, he was in third grade he comes up in the proverbial big situation you know, in the last day. And I see the coach before he goes up to bat put some aside he puts his arm around them said something to him so then he gets in the batter’s box. And he gets a hit you got so excited he forgot to run a race just watch it you say run Danny run and then he made a great fielding play the end again so afterwards I said to him Danny I’m curious when the coach idea. That the curse of the worst possible thing it’s all up to you we’re all accounting side.
Cindra Kamphoff: Oh wow.
Hendrie Weisinger: Because the more responsibility, a team feels the more pressure he or she experiences with the coach It is sad is just go up and do your best have fun.
Cindra Kamphoff: yeah absolutely yeah well Henry you’ve given us so many things to think about I’m so grateful that you’re here on the podcast and there are some things I wrote down that I’m going to summarize at the end Okay, so you talked about the three main things that we should consider when we’re thinking about pressure that we may be provide on our kids is communicating. Like such as criticizing questioning and praising you talked about parental involvement in parental warmth, which I actually really appreciated all of those things.
Hendrie Weisinger: You said then also very quickly a parental warm. When I see a parent drop off their son or daughter at school and shake hands. What is that tactile communication. Which you know how many times, one of the things I love is that when a player does something like they missed the field goal, or something his teammates come over and they give. Something yeah and when your kid does matter whatever. Sometimes you don’t have to say anything but you just give a hug around the show there. Is a lot and sometimes you give them a high five, and that means when they do their homework and get a good grade. it’s the same thing, so you know when you when you were three or when your kids were three year old the two boys, so you had two boys that was three years old, I bet you gave a lot of tactile physical comfort. I did lots of thing again older and older it’s less and less I know my. My son started new one, every time he sees me, I still have them and I will kiss him on the on the cheek. Every so I don’t want parents to forget about the importance of tactile communication as a way of showing Warren just because your kids are no longer five or six years old.
Cindra Kamphoff: awesome, thank you for adding that about parental warm because I know that was an area we didn’t get to you also talked about how pressure parents can really emphasize comparison and winning and not necessarily the process. Or the effort, and we also talked about the importance of like not connecting our aspirations to our expectations of our kids. So thank you so much for joining us today, Dr Henry so your book the unlikely art of parental pressure, a positive approach pushing your child to be their best How can people get the book and tell us how we might connect with you.
Hendrie Weisinger: They can get it on Amazon, which would probably be the least expensive way to get it, and the fastest way, and they can contact me for further questions, through my website, which is hey why singer phd.com. And if you send me emails I will be happy to respond to them and also want to point out we’re also starting a class and online class and development for parents so I’ll let you know when that is up and running.
Cindra Kamphoff: I’m sure that’s going to be incredible well do you have any final advice or comments for everyone who’s listening today.
Hendrie Weisinger: I want you know parents should think about the first time they experienced parental pressure and the impact it had at them and how they felt I think that if parents can remember to use pressure and healthy ways instead of their son or daughter feeling it as expectations that are impossible to meet, they will experience it as a. As guidance, as I said, support motivation and when a pound can do that that is a guaranteed way that I will say that the force will be with you.
Cindra Kamphoff: love it before so we wish you well such great valuable content information today Thank you so much for helping us be better parents I’m grateful for you, and thanks so much for being on the podcast today, Dr. Henry.
Hendrie Weisinger: Thank you, thanks again for having me and I appreciate everybody listening.