Handling Stress in Middle School: How much pressure should you put on your kids?
A mom chats about monitoring parental pressure
Interview with Mollishree Sawhney
When children in middle school start to pull away from their parents’ constant supervision, it is a natural response for parents to give their students more incentive to perform well in school. Parents often reward students for good grades or dictate which activities they should join. However, this is a balancing act. Parents should motivate their kids to care about their education without allowing academic pressure to have negative effects on the students’ well-being.
As Mollishree Sawhney, mother of an incoming 6th grader, remarks, “I try not to put any pressure on him to commit to an activity. As he gets older, he’ll face plenty of challenges growing up, so adding extra pressure from me, as a parent, will not help anything.” We spoke with Mollishree about her plan to guide her son through 6th grade and her expectations for the coming year.
CI: What are your greatest concerns about your child entering middle school?
MS: There is no more safety net in Middle School. My son has been most worried about the amount of homework in 6th grade. His older friends have told him that he’ll have 3 hours of homework a night and that’s really scaring him. For my husband and me, we want him to feel like he can come to us with his own questions and concerns. We don’t want him asking his friends about serious topics. We want to have his trust so he talks to us and gets the real facts about questions he has.
CI: What are you most excited for about your child entering middle school?
MS: I’m excited for him to take on new responsibilities. He’s excited to make new friends at a new school. It’s a new slate because he’s going to a different middle school than the one associated with his elementary school.
CI: In what ways do you think your child will change and grow as they start 6th grade? How are you planning on guiding them through their journey?
MS: MS: I like to give my son a good amount of independence. Since 5th grade, every day, I’ve just asked ‘Do you have homework?’ and ‘Have you finished it?’ with the trust that he is doing the work. This has been good training for middle school, and now I know he is responsible for doing the homework on his own in 6th grade. And if I get a report by the end of the week that he didn’t turn something in or if something was late, then I step in with consequences.
CI: Remembering back to your own middle school experience, did you feel that you were given more freedom in 6th grade? Do you feel that you would want to give your child that same amount of freedom?
MS: I feel that kids in America have more freedom than kids in India. But, with freedom comes responsibility. My son has all the freedom he wants until he abuses that freedom, then there are consequences.
CI: Do you anticipate your child starting a new activity or hobby as they start middle school? Do you feel like they should be challenged as they start this new chapter of their life?
MS: I don’t want him to start any new activities, at least in 6th grade, because there’s already so much change and learning happening that adding an extra challenge won’t benefit him. I try not to put any pressure on him to commit to an activity. As he gets older, he’ll face plenty of challenges growing up, so adding extra pressure from me, as a parent, will not help anything.