The Pressure to Perform

Negative criticism vs. positive affirmation

When children start to believe that love and affection are contingent upon their approval of authority figures they become weak and dependent. Outwardly they appear compliant and docile, but inwardly the desire for unconditional acceptance makes them vulnerable.

Studies have shown that 94 percent of classroom management techniques used by teachers are based on negative feedback intended to censor behavior. These tactics use detailed criticism for failure and only vague praise for accomplishment.

When students actions, efforts, and feelings are under constant scrutiny in order to “produce results”, children lose their sense of self-worth and instead depend on the teacher, parent, and school system to define it for them. If they cannot find worth in these sources, they often turn to their peers to meet those needs.

“As a result, we have created an outwardly driven society that has lost its real vitality and meaning. Life is fearful in such a place, because many of us are driven by fear, the fear of being who we really are.” – Healing Our Children

Why do teens join gangs or get caught up in cliques? Bullying and other destructive behavior results partly from a need to feel control, to feel accepted, or to feel powerful. In a gang or clique people feel listened to and taken seriously. In an otherwise hostile environment at school, a bully can feel in control of his or her behavior. Natural desires such as free-will, affirmation, and love is channeled in negative directions. Fear, control, and egotism are fostered.

Children need an environment that encourages self-worth and love without the fear of criticism. Nourishment and emotional well-being should not depend on performance or cognitive ability. Only at home in the loving arms of family and friends will children truly learn to become self-regulating and courageous.