The Influence of Parental Expectations and Peer Pressure on Academic Performance

The Influence of Parental Expectations and Peer Pressure on Academic PerformanceEvery individual’s behaviour and beliefs are shaped by a number of factors. When it comes to people, parents and friends generally play the most significant roles in influencing the individual. This is usually through parent expectations and peer pressure, degrees of which vary as the child grows older.

Academics, being a core part of the student life, are prone to a lot of influence from parents and peers alike. It is common for parents to set expectations for their children to excel in education. Similarly, the peers a student is surrounded by and chooses to be in the company of can affect the way they perform academically.

Often, expectations and pressure hold negative connotations. But both come with their fair share of pros and cons. For instance, when parental expectations are expressed positively, they can help students stay determined when they go through periods of self-doubt. However, setting unrealistically high expectations can lead to anxiety, breakdown and eventually, failure. Peer pressure too, is only viewed as children being forced to be a part of undesirable activities like smoking and stealing. But the right peer group can encourage students to do school work better and help them be more social.

All in all, when dealt with in the right way, the positive effects of parental expectations and peer pressure can outshine the negative ones.

Setting the Right Expectations

While it’s no surprise that parents play a vital role in their children’s academic achievement, a clear distinction needs to be made between setting high hopes and setting unrealistic hopes. A research by the American Psychological Association found that when parents had high aspirations, children performed increasingly well academically. However, when these aspirations exceeded expectations, the performance decreased.

Naturally, parents expect their children to do well. But the way this is conveyed can make all the difference. The key is to understand the child’s capabilities and motivate them accordingly. Telling children to achieve goals without talking about the purpose or meaning behind them can reduce the effectiveness of positive expectations. The motivator should not be a number on a report card but the opportunity to learn, broaden horizons and discover interests that can be pursued in the future.

For parents, setting the expectation is just one half of encouraging academic achievement. Providing the appropriate support to meet those expectations is the other half. Reading, engaging in fun, educational activities and working together to overcome difficulties are all things parents can do to assist their children in the learning process. It’s also important to actively listen to children and encourage them to open up about their goals, interests and challenges. Let children know that their self-worth is not dependent on academic goals and that despite their accomplishments or failures, they are accepted by you.

We take this principle very seriously at Extramarks. That’s why; our products are designed to help parents and teachers identify specifics related to a child’s abilities, his / her talents, and his / her weaknesses. This helps them be realistic with their expectations and work to hone the child’s development accordingly.

Dealing with Peer Pressure

As students grow older, they tend to spend more time with peer groups and are more open to their influence. Usually, these peer groups are chosen based on the commonalities they share. But it’s important to remember that though your child may share one interest with the group, they may have other varying interests too. Being a part of such a group can help students gain exposure and develop open-mindedness while discovering their own sense of self.

The word pressure leads us to think that students are often forced to do something they don’t want to, or that they are influenced into thinking or doing something different from their known nature. While there are cases where students are made fun of for being smart or doing well in school, there can also be pressure to do better and be more socially responsible. Imagine if your child is surrounded by students who complete school work regularly and on time. This might motivate them to do the same.

The key lies in how a student deals with pressure. As parents you can help them recognize and deal with it in the right way. Stay aware of your children’s social lives and friend circles without encroaching on their space. Peer acceptance is important to students, so it’s better to focus on how they can build good peer relationships rather than highlight the negative effects of peer pressure. Also, a student does not necessarily have to refrain from poor company. Instead, you can teach them to be the positive influence on their friends.

Peer pressure and parental expectations can come across as overwhelming but they can also motivate, not just academically but also in the overall personal development of the student.

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