Home > School and Learning > Your Child's Performance in School > Academic Achievements > Parents Have Unrealistic Academic Expectations

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Parents Have Unrealistic Academic Expectations

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: How do you handle a situation when a parent expects too much from a child academically? The child is a first grader and is a very bright child but at home he gets very emotional when he doesn't perform at the 100% level in schoolwork. It appears he is afraid he won't do well. What affect will this have on the child?

A: Parents who make unrealistic demands and/or have unrealistic expectations of their kids academically, or in any other sphere of their lives, risk seeing their kids' mental, emotional and physical well being severely compromised. Children under this kind of pressure often begin to refuse to attempt anything unless they are convinced that they will be the best at it. They fear being perceived by their parents as imperfect. I have counseled many academically bright kids whose parents' unrealistically high academic expectations have caused them to stop trying in school -- to the point of academic failure. They reason, "It's better to be known as a smart kid who isn't living up to his potential rather than a kid who can't achieve the high academic standards his parents insist upon regardless of how hard he tries." It's a life of fear, sadness and low self-worth to know that your best efforts might never be good enough for your parents -- that you, in fact, are not good enough for your parents.

Parents who put this kind of unhealthy pressure on their kids need to have discussions with teachers and counselors about the negative consequences of their unrealistic expectations. Their child might be doing well academically, but this does not mean their parenting approach is correct.

More on: Expert Advice

Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


Vote Now for the Children's & Teen Choice Book Awards
Voting is open now through May 3 for the Children's and Teen Choice Book Awards — the only national book awards program where the winning author, illustrator, and books of the year are selected by young readers. Encourage your child to vote for his favorites today!

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

Top 10 Math & Science Apps for Your Whiz Kid
Looking for the best math and science apps for kids? Check out these cool apps for all ages, which will grow your child's love of the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Wondering what to do now that you've signed your child up for kindergarten? Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks