Overbearing parents can damage academic outcomes, says study

The Guardian is reporting research that suggests overbearing parents who ‘aim too high’ for their children can have a negative impact on their children’s results.

A Reading University study confirms previous research that children of parents with higher hopes do better academically than those whose parents aspire less. Critically, however, those aspirations have to be realistic, otherwise parents run the risk of damaging their children’s academic outcomes.

Researchers analysed data from a five-year German study (2002 to 2007) of 3,530 11- to 16-year-olds and their parents. They looked at pupils’ annual maths tests and parallel parental questionnaires assessing aspiration: how much they wanted their child to get a certain grade, and expectation, and how much they believed their child could get that grade.

The lead researcher, Kou Murayama, from Reading’s school of psychology and clinical language sciences, said the results were striking. “Our aim was to see if parental aspiration that exceeds realistic expectation could have negative effects on children’s academic performance.

“Children of parents with higher hopes achieved statistically better test scores compared to those who aspired less. This is consistent with previous findings that high parental aspiration is good for children.

“However, when we examined the parents whose aspiration exceeded realistic expectation, children’s academic performance was damaged. This could be due to children experiencing anxiety, low confidence and frustration brought on by pressure from overbearing parents – but more research is needed…”

More at: Overbearing parents can damage academic outcomes, says study


The Guardian notes that the study, Don’t Aim Too High for Your Kids: Parental Over-Aspiration Undermines Students’ Learning in Mathematics, is published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology but no obvious link is available at present.

However, the following version is available from Reading University

[pdf-embedder url=”https://4cpa373vsw6v3t1suthjdjgv-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/MurayamaAspiration_fin_afterproof.pdf”]


So the finding of this is that parents should be aspirational, but not too aspirational.

Any suggestions on how they reach that perfect balance point? Me neither. 


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Categories: Parenting and Research.



    SchoolsImprove I’m sure there are more factors which ‘damage academic outcomes’. For instance ‘high staff turnover’, unhappy teachers etc

  2. hlewisbill

    PostFilm I think this in part due to the pressures of perceived competition both in the private and state schooling system and then beyond.

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