Under Pressure | Teen Ink

Under Pressure

July 7, 2009
By carolinet BRONZE, Saratoga, California
carolinet BRONZE, Saratoga, California
3 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Pressure: the eight-letter word looming over every high school student’s head like a dark cloud waiting for the storm to come. Only this time, when the storm arrives, it isn’t leaving. Parental pressure is now weighing down on children like a paperweight, robbing them of their childhood by surrounding their life in a world of SAT study books, advanced placement classes, and test survival tips. While pressure may motivate a student into trying harder in his or her classes, it may also cause the student to resort to cheating to maintain grades.

People are only young once. Before students grow up and enter the adult world, they should be given the luxury of living a carefree life. By forcing so much pressure on a child to succeed academically in school, a parent could potentially wreck the child’s social skills and childhood permanently. Furthermore, an excess amount of pressure leads to an excess amount of stress, the factor ultimately responsible for nervous breakdowns and agitation, not to mention white hair and wrinkles. While pressure can be a beneficial, too much of it undoubtedly hurts a student’s life.

In addition to damaging a student’s life, parental pressure gives students the wrong impression of the purpose of education. A student’s motivation to work hard in school would no longer be to satisfy his or her own educational needs, but rather to please his or her parents’ wishes. The idea that a person should overlook his or her happiness to complete someone else’s is an action that children simply should not have to do. Students should try hard in school for themselves, not for their parents, as even psychologists agree that internal motivation is more beneficial and healthier than external motivation.

Parents generally pressure their kids because they want their kids to succeed academically. Ironically, pressure is one of the motivating factors that cause students to begin slipping in grades, as it increases the incentive for students to cheat not only on tests, but also on homework assignments, projects, and essays. Cheating has far more consequences than simply receiving an “F” on an assignment or a “0” on a test; it introduces students to the rationale that acting unethically is justified as long as it achieves the desired outcome. Such a mindset is undoubtedly harmful, as the desire to cheat in school will translate to a desire to cheat in life, opening students to not only a series of moral problems, but also an attitude that will open up future windows for undesirable consequences. The bottom line is this: pressure doesn’t help students do well in school, it only triggers events which cause kids to trade their moral conscience for an A. In effect, sacrificing moral values for a short-term gain, even if doing so causes a long-term harm.

Overall, the small benefits parental pressure may bring are vastly outweighed by the harms. Pressure hurts a child’s social life and childhood, as well as gives a child the wrong reason to work hard in school. Additionally, it acts as a catalyst for students to resort to methods such as cheating to maintain high grades. It is a subtle and powerful way to endanger a student’s ethical standards with few positive outcomes. Rather than resorting to unnecessary pressure, then, parents should instead continuously offer words of encouragement, as positive behavior often leads to positive outcomes.

The author's comments:
This piece is meant to expose people to the potentially deleterious effects of an excess of parental pressure. While pressure, when kept in control, can be enormously beneficial, I wrote this article to urge parents to make a conscientious effort to prevent applying too much pressure onto students. After all, too much pressure tends to cause things to crack.

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