Let's Hear it for the Average Child
My Kid's Better than Your Kid
And then there's peer pressure -- among parents themselves. "Some parents see their children's activities as just another way of keeping up with the Joneses," says Leah Klungness, PhD, a psychologist in Locust Valley, on Long Island, New York. "They often feel that they must demand academic excellence and permit their children to participate in as many activities as possible so that their kids don't fall behind."
When you look at all the pressures leading parents to develop this may-the-best-kid-win attitude, it's not surprising that so many fall prey to pushy parenting. But as understandable as the mentality is, "This is an attitude that's toxic," says Linda Hutchinson, PhD, parent coordinator in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools in North Carolina.
When you're constantly correcting homework, carting B or C students to a tutor, "helping" with the social-studies project, or getting overly involved in your kids' sports success, says Pat Bruner, PhD, a former school psychologist from Richmond, Virginia, you're subtly signaling to them that they aren't good enough exactly as they are: "The long-range effect on kids pressured to excel beyond their ability is adults who are insecure or bitter that their best is never good enough."