Growing Bookworms – Is your child overly pressured?

If children feel under pressure not to fail, it's because of signals they  have picked up from adults' | Tes News
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In the Southern hemisphere, the children are heading into the final stretch of the school year and most of them will have examinations looming at the end of a busy term filled with classes, homework, assignments, concerts, music, and sport.

In the Northern hemisphere, the children are all facing a new school year with new teacher and class structures. Some will be starting at a new school and will need to make a new set of friends.

For all children, wherever they live, life is stressful. Many children are pressured by parents to perform well at school and achieve. Some are also pressured to continuously practice and excel at sport, music and other extra curricular activities. Many children are driven by their own desire to succeed and do well. Scholarships, gaining acceptance into good universities, and getting a good job at the end of it all, is a common aim.

With our world so much faster and many jobs under threat of becoming redundant due to new technology and robotics, as well as a far bigger world population resulting in more competition for fewer jobs, our children are under far more pressure to achieve then we were. Most modern children are also far more aware of trends in the global job market than we were. This all leads to a lot of anxiety, stress, and pressure for youngsters.

While some pressure on kids to perform is a good thing, many children are under to much pressure and don’t have time to “be kids” anymore. To much pressure can impact kids negatively in many areas of their lives. Some of these areas are as follows:

  • Higher rates of mental illness – stress, anxiety, and pressure wear children down and lead to mental health problems like depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and other eating disorders;
  • Higher risks of injuries – children who are pressured to perform on the sports field may ‘push through’ pain and other warnings signs of injury, possibly causing long-term damage to their bodies;
  • Increased risk of cheating – In circumstances where achievement of high marks becomes all consuming and is expected by parents, the desire to achieve at all costs can lead to unethical behaviour like cheating on tests and examinations;
  • Poor sportsmanship – kids who are pressured to always perform well don’t appreciate the benefits of learning to lose with good grace and understand that no-one can shine all the time. Everyone has bad days and difficulties with some or other subject or area of a subject; and
  • Sleep deprivation – Kids who are under constant pressure to perform are include to stay up late cramming for tests and suffer from lack of sleep. This can lead to poor health and bad sleeping habits.

From a parent or guardian perspective, these are five signs you are putting to much pressure on your child:

  • Criticizing your child for things s/he got wrong and not highlighting the things done well;
  • Being overly involved in your child’s studying, practice schedules, and choices of sports and other extramural activities;
  • Forcing your child to study and/or practice thereby not allowing him/her to learn consequences of lack of discipline and not studying or practicing;
  • Telling your child that an exam or sports game is a once in a lifetime opportunity;
  • Comparing your child unfavourably to other children or a sibling;
  • Losing your temper with your child or becoming obviously frustrated by lack of understanding or poor performance by your child.

Do you think children are very pressured in our modern world? Let me know in the comments.

About Robbie Cheadle


Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle



Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books


Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.

47 Comments on “Growing Bookworms – Is your child overly pressured?”

  1. It IS all in the way it’s meant… And only time will tell so people must be aware of the signs of exactly what amount/type of pressure one can take.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I agree, Annette, that some people can cope with more pressure than others. My Michael doesn’t cope very well, but Greg is fine. I have to give Michael lots of encouragement and upliftment and check he’s doing okay. I had to make Greg take a break over this school holiday. He would have studied but he needed time out.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Staci Troilo says:

    Being a child is hard. Parenting is difficult, too. These are such difficult times. When I was a kid, I had time to be a kid. My children had a lot less. I’m starting to wonder what childhood will be like for the next generation. And as I’m about to become a grandmother, I’m more concerned than ever.

    Timely and eye-opening, Robbie. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • A grandmother, how exciting. Being a grandparent is great, all the fun and none of the responsibility. I agree that our kids are oversubscribed and overpressured. The world has changed and is much more competitive. It is not a good thing.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This is an ideal topic, Robbie, and very timely. I imagine with all the adjustments, first to virtual learning and isolation to the family unit, and now with the shiift back to physical classroom, (at least in the U.S.), the pressures for our kids is compounded. Thanks for taking the time to look into this and bring it to the attention of others. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on Robbie's inspiration and commented:

    I am over at Writing to be Read today with a post about whether our children are overly pressured for my Growing Bookworms series. Thank you for hosting me, Kaye Lynne Booth.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. petespringerauthor says:

    Stress is at an all-time high right now in the world. Of course, children feed off the stress from others around them. I’ve said all along that the other big challenge during the pandemic besides the obvious physical one is mental health. Being under stress for prolonged periods of time affects us physically and mentally.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Toni Pike says:

    Fantastic advice, Robbie. Toni x

    Liked by 2 people

  7. olganm says:

    I don’t have children, but I see my friends’ kids and now that I am doing a bit of teaching, I get to see what their schedules are like, and they are under a lot of pressure, that is true, although it does depend on the individual child and on the parents’ attitude, as you say. I was always driven in my studies, but was terrible when it came to sports, and at the time, I didn’t do any extracurricular activities, other than reading. All kids are expected to do everything these days, and I don’t think social media helps either, as peer pressure has always played a part, and now it is more evident than ever. Great article, Robbie.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Olga, and for adding your experience in this regard. My sons are not very sporty. I tried to encourage them so they would have an opportunity to enjoy sport but they never really took to it. Greg is just not interested, preferring his maths and science, and Michael is just sick to much for him to ever get into a sport.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is such a timely piece, Robbie. I don’t have children of my own, but I thank God each day that I grew up when I did. I think social media has stolen the joys of childhood.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Mick Canning says:

    More and more under pressure, yes. But how to avoid it? That’s the real question. We have built a system that creates those pressures for them, without designing any sort of safety valve beyond just dropping out.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Mick, lovely to see you here. I agree. This is what is worrying me. How do we manage kids who are not as academic and who don’t see their futures in a corporate job. A degree and a demanding job with long hours seems to be most peoples goal for their kids and many teachers too. I am not convinced that this leads to happiness having being in corporate, together with my spouse, for over 21 years. It is very hard to obtain a balance between work and your family and I don’t really wish this on my boys unless they are determined to have it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Mick Canning says:

        Other than for the lucky few, work has always been a long slog for small rewards. I think what annoys me most – no, makes me furious – is that in the twenty first century it shouldn’t have to be that way. Our lives are filled with ‘labour-saving gadgets’ and automation has taken over a huge amount of industrial drudgery. I’m not going to start on about capitalism, greed, and exploitation, but am sorely tempted to.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. Norah says:

    I don’t think it’s good for any of us to be under too much pressure, Robbie. The world we live in at the moment seems to be causing all sorts of stress and anxiety. We need to do whatever we can to reduce it – for all of us.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Norah, I don’t think many parents or teachers make allowances for children, especially the driven high performers. The more their kids achieve, the more they push them for more. I know that Terence and I are different in this respect. We have encouraged and helped and pushed to ensure the boys do some exam prep and that sort of thing, but I’ve never criticized my sons for poor marks or set unrealisic targets for them. My younger son’s maths tutor was surprised when I praised Mike for his big improvement in maths when he got 55%. He had gone up from 44% so it was a massive achievement. Our goal is now 60%. You can’t be unrealistic and put unfair pressure on people.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. marianbeaman says:

    I listening to the video as I type this. None of us, at any age, should experience undo pressure to perform–and let it affect us. It’s a fine line between having good aspirations and feeling the pressures you describe, Robbie! It’s good to have coping mechanisms like exercise, music, and other “therapies.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Marian, lovely to see you. I agree that we all need comping mechanisms and we also need understanding. Everybody had bad exams and off days. I hate seeing parents making their kids feel terrible because they didn’t do as well in a test. I think it puts to much pressure on the child and makes them feel unhappy. These feelings can erode the soul. Happiness is the most important thing for people.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Wise words, Robbie. Pressure to perform in the modern world comes at children from within, from, parents, from educationalists, prom social media, from advertisements……..

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Derrick, you are quite right. I didn’t even mention the pressure on girls to look right and have the body shape regarded as idea. There are so many girls with eating disorders in the high schools, I find it frightening. Thanks for adding your thoughts.

      Liked by 3 people

  13. Good checklist. All of those are questionable parenting actions. I was accused of being a pushy parent when my kids were growing up because I was involved, never went on auto-pilot, always helped my kids achieve their goals (but always positively). The list you mentioned–never did any of those. They’re insulting to kids! Whatever I did seems to have worked!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Jacqui, like you I always help my sons and support them. I read to them and with them and I listen to their speeches and creative writing as well as test them on their work before exams and tests. I never judge them or belittle them if things don’t go well. We just decide together to make some changes and I get them some help if needed. Mike has a tutor for maths now. I think you were a very good mother and your kids are doing so well in life.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. Jim Borden says:

    well said, Robbie. I agree that kids today are under much more pressure than we were, for all the reasons you mention. Add a global pandemic on top of it, and it is even worse.

    I’m not sure what the solution is, but I hope there are people working on it…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Jim, I attended a parents/teachers meeting last night and there was a lot of pressure heaped on the heads of the boys to go to university and to achieve high marks. Nowadays it seems as if no-one sees any work options for people who are not academic and I find that a bit scary. There has to be more to life than corporates and professional jobs. Life wouldn’t be much fun with no music, art, or drama, but these things are only seen as having value if used in a corporate job i.e. drama helps businessmen in the boardroom.

      Liked by 3 people

  15. Carla says:

    When I was working, I often ran into parents who put enormous pressure on their children. Certain cultures expect straight “A” reports and the children are the ones who cry when they do not do well. I tried to talk to parents about it, but seldom got through to them. I agree the stresses children face now are different from years ago and even worse right now with school being done remotely for so long. Great advice for parents here, Robbie.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Carla, I’ve seen this exact same thing and my son was commenting on it last night. His grade have just received their marks for their preliminary final exams. Some of the boys were very stressed about their results, largely because of parental expectations. Somehow, my boys always exceed my expectations and make me proud.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Susan Scott says:

    Great post Robbie. Thanks. We’ve lost our way it seems. Simple encouragement and involvement from parents to their children is surely effective and to hang with outdated norms of doing well *in order to be a doctor or lawyer or whatever* … there is so much more to life that can be fulfilling and productive and contributory to society.

    Liked by 2 people

    • HI Susan, most parents don’t seem to think like this anymore. They seem to think that if their child isn’t a lawyer, engineer, doctor, or accountant they have failed. Can you imagine a world with no writers, musicians, dancers, or actors. What an awful thought.

      Liked by 2 people

  17. This is a worthy topic, Robbie. I think there is definitely too much pressure on kids to perform in school and in sports. As parents, it’s easy to get caught up in that mentality. When my kids were going through elementary school, I noticed a change in the level of participation that was expected from parents. Teachers expected parents to supervise all homework and sign off on a multitude of assignments, quiz them on their spelling words, read with them every night and help them prepare for tests. Honestly, that was a lot of pressure on me, with four little boys who played sports after school too. When I was growing up, I don’t think my parents ever looked at my homework or helped me learn to read. It was a lot different then – I’m not sure I even HAD homework in the elementary school years. Teachers told us to go outside and play after school. But it’s hard now because of how fast the world is changing and the skills kids need to be successful as adults. I vote for a ramping back down, though.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Barbara, I had the same experience with my boys. I helped both of them learn to read, learn their spelling, maths timetables and prepare for tests. I still test Greg on his history and some other subjects. I also listen to his speeches, and other presentations. Michael I have to help a lot. I assist him prepare for all his subject although I’m struggling with the maths now and have had to employ a tutor. I don’t think it should be like this.

      Liked by 2 people

  18. A very good post. Let’s hope that the teachers always find the right balance here. Because, in my opinion, these are also there for that. It is not easy for children, these days. That is clear. xx Michael

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Michael, it really isn’t easy for kids now and its going to get harder. I agree that teachers need to ensure there is a balance and not make the children overly stressed. Thanks for contributing to this discussion, Michael.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I hope i had not added wrong thoughts, Robbie! My own experiences are telling me every day how simple we got tought, and what we got missed. Here we only were trained for the work in production, and girls for a job in the office. It took a lot of time realizing that visiting a boarding school was the only way to escape. Here you will rarely find teachers who do the job with body and soul. It’s all about money and status. Unfortunately, the most vulnerable part of this system is the children. xx

        Liked by 2 people

        • HI Michael, your thoughts and experiences are very welcome. I had a mixture of teachers. Some were amazing. My teacher when I was 10 and 11 recognised my interest in history and the empathy of my soul. She gave me incredible books to read to develop my interest. In high school, I had a teacher who used to embarrass us if we got something wrong. She would also hit our hands with a ruler and bang our elbows on the table. She completely terrified me as I am a sensitive person. I never liked her subject and it ruined that part of learning for me. Teachers are so important. We have the same issue here in South Africa that you have explained. People go into teacher for the salary and government perks, they are not lovers of children and the gift of imparting learning. Thanks again, Michael, I really appreciate your thoughts.

          Liked by 1 person

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