About 800000 people commit suicide worldwide every year, of these 135,000 (17%) are residents of India, a nation with 17.5% of the world population. Between 1987 and 2007, the suicide rate increased from 7.9 to 10.3 per 100,000, with higher suicide rates in the southern and eastern states of India. In 2012, Tamil Nadu (12.5% of all suicides), Maharashtra (11.9%) and West Bengal (11.0%) had the highest proportion of suicides. Among large population states, Tamil Nadu and Kerala had the highest suicide rates per 100,000 people in 2012. The male to female suicide ratio has been about 2:1.

There are various reasons for committing suicide but one of the major reasons is the high expectations parents have from their children.

Let’s introspect why parents have high expectation nowadays:
  • Prior achievement of the child
  • Competition in the family, neighbourhood, associates
  • Current performance in school
  • Involvement in child’s school
  • Gender
  • Socio-economic problems
  • Imitation on the part of parent’s
  • Prior record and experience’s of the parent’s

Parents don’t understand what affects high parental expectations have on their child.

These are the few factors that are affected by parental expectations:
  • Self-image or self-esteem of the child

When expectations are realistic, it is easy for a child to experience success and feel personally valuable. On the other hand, when expectations are too high or too rigid, parents often express disappointment in their child’s actions. As disappointments mount up, they begin to eat away at a child’s view of his own value and his self-esteem begins to diminish. In simple words, self-esteem is composed of the thoughts, feelings, and ideas that a person has about himself. It is his overall judgment of himself. It is how much he likes, accepts and respects himself.

In one way or another, most of the things a child or an adult does are directly related to his feelings about himself. The friends he chooses, his creativity, his achievement, his basic personality — all are affected by his concept of himself. Strong self-esteem is not only the foundation of sound mental health, but it is also important in charting a successful and happy life. Building a good self-image in our children is one of the most important jobs we do as parents.

  • Conflict resulting in stress and maladaptive behaviours

When parental expectations are realistic then the child copes with it at his/ her own pace, but when the expectation becomes unrealistic then the child always perceives things as threatening, when they do not believe that their resources for coping with obstacles (stimuli, people, situations, etc.) are enough for what the circumstances demand. They become depressed, anxious, aggressive, irritated which affects their physical as well as mental health.

  • Performance of the child

High parental expectations also affect the child’s own aspirations and expectations; findings suggest that parental expectations for their child’s academic attainment have a moderate effect on a student’s own goals for post-secondary education. Both the expectations of parents and children are moderated by characteristic’s of a parent, child, community (Redd, Jazzman et. al, 2008)

Here are ways by which students can cope with high parental pressure
  • Plan a timetable
  • Talk to your parents
  • Reward yourself
  • Do bit by bit every day until you find that you have finished it all! It really helps and DO NOT leave it until the last minute
  • If you can, set a reasonable amount of time on weekends and in the holidays where you can revise and do some more homework
  • Stay positive
  • Relax!
  • Don’t have a late night!
  • If you have to go out, either wait until you have done a fair amount of work or do it another day.
Here’s what parents can do to reduce the pressure on their child

1. Have hopes, dreams and ambitions for your child

  • Let your child know that you think it’s important they do well at school.
  • Ensure your child knows that you believe in their potential and abilities.
  • Ask your child every day what they learnt at school, or what they found interesting or fun at school
  • Talk to your child often about the dreams and plans they have for their future.

2. Help your child to enjoy learning

  • Demonstrate a positive attitude and good work habits to your child
  • Talk with your child about what they are learning at school
  • Help your child to learn how to deal with distractions and to re-engage with their work
  • Help your child and encourage them to keep trying if they lack confidence or doubt themselves.
  • Praise your child for their effort and persistence when they are reading or doing homework.

3. Talk with your child every day about their day

  • Talk with your child about what’s happening at school – activities, programmes, what they are learning and even what happens in the playground.
  • Watch age-appropriate TV with your child and talk about what you watch together.
  • Have dinner at the table with the TV off and talk about what happened in everyone’s day.
  • Talk with your child about history, news, or any subject that interests them.

4. Read with your child

  • Share your own stories with your child about your life.
  • Read books or newspapers for enjoyment.
  • Read and talk about books and stories with your child.
  • Ask your child about their favourite character in a book or what they think might happen next in the story.

5.   Get involved with your child’s school and local community groups

  • Talk with your child’s teacher about their schoolwork and learning goals.
  • Meet with the school principal or school liaison officer to discuss what you can do to help your child to get the most they can out of their schooling.
  • Ask for help if you need it. There are many community groups and services to assist parents.
  • Talk with other parents. Other parents can be a great support and you may find that the issues your child is having at school or home can be quite normal for their age.
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