What does a child’s grade say about him or her? Does it define the child’s worth as a person? Many parents would say “no” when asked that question—but through their actions, they are sending their children a very different message. According to the Straits Times, exam stress among young people has spiked over the past couple of years, affecting youth mental health in Singapore.

The Aftermath of Excessive Academic Pressure

There are numerous real-life examples of this kind of over-emphasis on grades and academic achievement. One young boy, 11 years old, received a caning from his mother each time he received below 70 marks. When he failed two mid-year exams, math and Higher Chinese, the boy could not face his parents and leaped from a 17-story flat to his death.

Another child, a girl of 13 years, scored 83 marks in mathematics. Instead of praising her, however, her mother rebuked her sharply. “If you had been more careful, you could have scored above 85,” she told the teen. The girl later had to attend counselling because of depression, anxiety, and a tendency to harm herself.

One boy passed him Primary School Leaving Examinations successfully. However, his marks were not high enough to please his mother. She made him go through the whole year of school and take the PSLE again, with the goal of improving his grade.

Unintended Consequences

While some parents are knowingly extreme in their demands on their children, other parents do not intend to put so much pressure on their kids. A father reading his son’s report card may not be aware of how much his face reflects his disappointment with poor marks. A mother may not realize how her words of rebuke cut deeply and cause despair instead of prompting the child to do better. Learning to weigh those words and guard those expressions is an important part of parenting an emotionally sensitive child. Parents should try to instead show pride, encouragement, joy, and acceptance, even in the face of failure. Focusing primarily on the positive will lift the child’s spirits and encourage him to do his best.

A Permanent Mark

When parents are constantly berating or punishing their children, pressuring them to do better and achieve more in school, those young people feel significant stress. In some cases, the emotional pain and mental anguish may be irreparable. Having to endure those acute feelings at an early, vulnerable stage of life may make young people much more susceptible to lifelong struggles with depression, anxiety, and compulsive behaviours. In the effort to ensure good marks in school, parents may be placing irremovable marks on their child’s emotional health and wellbeing.

A Better Way

Do you wonder if you are placing undue pressure on your children? Visit Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic yourself or make an appointment for your child. We offer the services of some of the top psychiatrists in Singapore, and they can help you find better ways to counsel your child and connect with him or her. In addition, our psychiatrists can identify any emotional problems or mental issues that may be troubling your child. With early detection and effective treatment, your child can recover that emotional health and balance that is so important during the growth years.

News Feed from Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic

Source: Straits Times, October 30, 2016