Tips for Parents

Clark Psychology Professor Wendy Grolnick releases ‘Pressured Parents, Stressed-Out Kids’

Clark Psychology Professor Wendy Grolnick releases ‘Pressured Parents, Stressed-Out Kids’

Author offers advice on how to channel competitive anxieties into positive parenting

WORCESTER, MA- It’s nearly impossible for parents to resist the urge to talk up the achievements of their children. However, in this day of increased competition, innocent conversations about grades, standardized test scores, auditions or college admission interviews can cause a parent undue anxiety.

A new book co-authored by Clark University Psychology Professor Wendy Grolnick titled “Pressured Parents, Stressed-Out Kids: Dealing with Competition While Raising a Successful Child” ($17.95, Prometheus Books, 2008) is a useful, accessible guide to help panicky parents deal with the torrential emotions stirred up by today’s competitive society and redirect their competitive anxieties into positive parenting.

“Our evolutionary hardwiring and the escalating competition of our world conspire to make parents anxious. These threaten to prevent us from being the parents we want to be,” Grolnick said. “(This book) shows you how to calm this anxiety.”

Grolnick and her co-author, educational and parenting journalist Kathy Seal, offer tips on how to stay close to your children and avoid conflict while promoting their growth into competent adults. They advise parents against pressuring and controlling their children, because evidence indicates doing so has negative effects on children’s motivation. Instead, they focus on three essential feelings – autonomy, competence and connectedness – which parents can foster in their children to maximize their chances of success and minimize family conflict.

“Granting kids autonomy lets them feel that they can solve their own problems and are responsible for their own actions,” said Grolnick. However, the authors don’t advocate giving children free reign. Rather, they say that providing structure gives kids the guidelines, information, limits, and consequences that they need to act in the world, instilling them with a feeling of competence.

According to Grolnick, “support from adults in the form of time and other resources provides children with a necessary feeling of connection and helps them internalize the ideas and values of their caring parents.”

“Pressured Parents, Stressed-Out Kids” is available wherever books are sold as well as through online booksellers such as

Grolnick is also author of “The Psychology of Parental Control: How Well-Meant Parenting Backfires” (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates 2002), a book that provides an empathic view of how easily parents can become trapped in controlling styles by emphasizing performance and hooking their own self-esteem on children’s performance.

Professor Grolnick has taught in Clark University’s Psychology Department since 1991. She is one of the nation’s leading parent researchers and has conducted pioneering studies on the role parents play in children’s motivation and achievement. Grolnick received her B.A. in Psychology from Cornell University and her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Rochester.

The author is a resident of Longmeadow, Mass.

Clark University is a private, co-educational liberal-arts research university with 2,200 undergraduate and 800 graduate students. Since its founding in 1887 as the first all-graduate school in the United States, Clark has challenged convention with innovative programs such as the International Studies Stream, the Strassler Family Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the accelerated BA/MA programs with the fifth year tuition-free for eligible students. The University is featured in Loren Pope’s book, “Colleges That Change Lives.”

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