Home Family Early Childhood Why Less Pressure Leads to More Success for Your Kids

Why Less Pressure Leads to More Success for Your Kids


As parents, we all want our children to excel and achieve great things. However, what if the key to their success lies in holding them back rather than pushing them forward? Jennifer Breheny Wallace, a Harvard-trained expert, suggests that stepping back and setting boundaries could be the secret sauce to raising well-adjusted, high-achieving kids.

The “Toxic Achievement Culture” Trap

Wallace’s recent book, “Never Enough: When Achievement Pressure Becomes Toxic — and What We Can Do About It,” delves into the damaging effects of overemphasizing achievement. Based on interviews with psychologists and a survey of 6,500 parents, she unveils the harsh realities of “toxic achievement culture” that’s causing a spike in mental health issues among children.

What’s Really Driving Your Kid?

Wallace found that parents often think it’s their children who are pushing for more — more challenging courses, more extracurricular activities, and more achievements. However, the kids are merely reflections of the competitive environment they are placed in. According to Wallace, it’s this setting that breeds a “social contagion,” where stress and anxiety spread like wildfire among children.

The Power of Setting Boundaries

Wallace advocates for a different approach, one that involves setting boundaries. She found that the healthiest achievers were those whose parents put up guardrails, limiting the number of opportunities their children could pursue.

Why Boundaries Matter

These boundaries are not just about saying “no” to excessive commitments; they’re about giving your child the gift of time and space to grow naturally. The limited environment encourages better mental health, more restful sleep, and quality time with family and friends.

Walk the Talk

Parents Need to Slow Down, Too

While setting up guardrails for your children is essential, don’t forget to set them up for yourself, too. The parents Wallace interviewed emphasized the importance of modeling healthier habits. That means not burning the midnight oil, ensuring you get adequate sleep, and carving out downtime for yourself and your family.

Aligning Actions with Words

Your children are always watching you. If you preach the importance of rest and balance but are always busy or stressed yourself, the mixed messages will only add to their confusion and anxiety.

Finding Balance in a Competitive World

Parenting in today’s hyper-competitive world is no small feat. The urge to make sure your kids are ahead of the curve can be overwhelming. However, the research shows that holding back and setting limits may be the key to a healthier, happier, and ultimately more successful upbringing for your child. So, the next time you find yourself tempted to overload your child’s schedule, remember: less can indeed be more.

Written by
Clara Underwood

Clara is a lifestyle writer, outdoors enthusiast, and a mother of two. She writes about everything from weekend family outings in nature to fostering emotional intelligence in children. Clara believes that a balanced family life is the cornerstone of a healthy society.

Related Articles