Do you do better under pressure?

students-at-desksI DON’T!! I tend to panic and get flustered. Then I’m no help. I have never been in a real emergency situation, so I don’t know how I would be. But when it comes to being put on the spot or pressured to give the right answer, I blank. Especially when it comes to tests. I could study all day and night but when I got that test in front of me everything I had retained would disappear.

My teachers and my mom knew this. No matter how hard I’d try, it seemed to never work. I changed the way I studied, nothing! When it came to state wide testing I would literally get sick to my stomach. It was the pressure, the complete silence required. I hated it all!

Bailey is in the 3rd grade and just finished up his MCA’s (Minnesota Comprehension Assessments).  He is the total opposite of me. He loves the pressure. He LOVES the silence required. Most of all he loves being able to get a great score on a test. He is the only child I know that looks forward to Friday’s spelling tests. He studies hard for tests and unlike me he retains all of it. Most of it! When I’d be wanting to throw up and being completely overwhelmed with pressure, he welcomes it. The thought of him possibly getting a GREAT score gets him so excited! This makes me VERY happy to say the least! The down side to this for Bailey is when he doesn’t score as well as he’d like, he gets down on himself. He’s very critical of himself whereas I never really expected too much out of myself.

I know a lot of this comes from the encouragement he gets and being told A LOT how important school is. That wasn’t the case with me growing up. But I’m starting to think maybe I say it too much. I don’t want him to feel pressured by me. I need to find a happy medium with him. Give him what I didn’t have but I don’t want him to feel he has to get the best grade all the time. I do say a lot…as long as you do your best you’re fine. But I also kinda drill into him why it’s so important to me he does good in school. My family, most aren’t high school graduates, where his dad’s are. I just want for him what most of my family doesn’t have, a good education. The knowledge of the importance of a good education. Our environments are 100% different though too so that right there I know makes a big difference.

Could I be pressuring him without even knowing it? He does work better under pressure but I don’t want him to feel that coming from me! Positive reinforcement, I’m very big on. I just think sometimes I should lay low on the drilling of graduating, he is only 8! Or do I keep at it, he doesn’t ever act like he doesn’t want to hear it, he never rolls his eyes. He takes it and says, “yes mom I know.” I’d like to think in the grand scheme of things it will all benefit him. I just don’t want him to resent me for pushing him too hard. Then I think I wish I had someone to push me!!!!!!!

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12 Responses to Do you do better under pressure?

  1. trishatruly says:

    Nikki, take it from a parent who’s been there: you’re a great mom! You aren’t pressuring your son. You’re letting him see your expectations of him. Nothing wrong with that. I think he’s got a great attitude. He’s self-motivated now thanks to you and that’s something so many young people seem lacking in.
    So good job, Mom!!

  2. Joy says:

    I think it’s great that Bailey is like this. He takes things seriously. There’s nothing wrong with that. I personally don’t think you can stress finishing school or getting a good education to much. With Jason and Toby, not graduating wasn’t even an option. It never even entered my head that they wouldn’t so I never talked about it.

    Jason did have to take a summer school science course after school was out his senior year and he did try and bamboozle me into letting him have his graduation party right away “before” he finished the class but alas, I knew him to well and said no diploma, no party. No party, no money for a car.

    I don’t necessarily think you should nag the kid to death but letting him know there is no option but graduating is okay. I think this is honestly something I never did talk to them about because it never entered my mind that they wouldn’t.

    • nikki says:

      I don’t mean to say I don’t think he will graduate, or he MAY not graduate. It’s a very common thing in my family though, most of us were left to fend for ourselves so schooling was put on the back burner, in order to survive. SO not the case in Bailey’s life. He WILL graduate if it kills me! LOL I just like him to know what I have had to go through and the struggles we have by not graduating.

  3. SKL says:

    I think this depends a lot on the individual. Some people are bound and determined to “do what they ought” while others will fight anything that isn’t their own original idea. And it’s a lot easier to make some people feel inferior than others. I love the photo above – notice the kids in the left row have no shoes on. How nice it was that even kids with no shoes could go to school; yet some of those kids would dwell on the superficial differences and conclude that the same applies to their chances for success. Others would just take the opportunity and run with it. After all, Abe Lincoln attended school barefoot! So despite a lot of environmental things, kids still need different levels and kinds of motivation.

    In my family there were six kids, and we ranged from top achiever to just barely passing. My mom was really big on education. She told me early on that her mother had told her all about Abe Lincoln and that was her inspiration; I too was inspired. My mom quit school on her 16th birthday, but she always told me I ought to be a lawyer. My dad quit school at 15 because he couldn’t read, so he didn’t say much about school outcomes, but he did expect effort. Both parents were supportive of in-school discipline for failure to complete work and would punish at home if report cards were unacceptable. Failure simply was not an option. It was also expected that everyone would go to college, even though the only help my parents could give was assistance with our financial aid requests. It never occurred to us to think, why should we go further in education than our parents did? We understood that in their generation, it was not that uncommon to lack a high school diploma, and you could still get a job without it, which our generation couldn’t expect.

    I believe we did better than we would have if our parents didn’t care, but I don’t think any parents could have gotten some of my brothers to be “A” students.

    I used to love standardized tests and pretty much all tests. They didn’t make me feel nervous at all. I was confident that my knowledge was more than sufficient to do justice to the test. It was a lot less stressful to me than the social aspects of school, and the wishy-washy stuff like “reading comprehension” where if you didn’t catch the same nuance as the teacher / the majority, you were wrong.

    My kid sister is 13 years my junior, and I took on a lot of her care when she was a tot / preschooler. She was one of those kids who could parrot things really well. At 3, I first sat her down with some alphabet flash cards, and by the second time she saw them, she knew a third of them. At 4, she could read simple stories, write, name the weekdays and months, perform simple arithmetic problems, read notes to play a simple song, etc. She was sickly during summers, so she couldn’t always go out and play, so we would sit and work on these things. She’d memorize lists of words, 10-20 a day, and I’d give her a penny for each new word she recalled, and then we’d go spend it at a store where she could figure out the math with 1c, 2c, and 5c candies. She could draw a pretty sophisticated picture of people, horses, etc. I figured she would be a terrific student and probably discover the cure for cancer someday.

    Once in school, my sister was content to be where all her classmates were. I never told her she “should” be getting all As, but I was dismayed to hear that she’d adopted the teacher’s statement that Cs are fine and dandy. Her first grade teacher didn’t form “reading groups” and the class didn’t read AT ALL for months. I was sure my sister would be bored, but she was just fine. She was very social and the teacher made her a peer tutor. She truly enjoyed school and was always a “good” and well-rounded student but never an academic star. So did I push too hard when she was little? Was it a waste or even counterproductive? I don’t think we can really know that. Who is to say whether it made her more conscientious or less interested than she would have been? There are theories left and right. Ultimately she is just fine – bright, employed, building a family.

    I am working with my girls even younger, since I have more tools at my disposal. I am better at adjusting to their individual needs, but I do let them know learning is a priority for me. The other day we were reading Pinocchio where the kids grew donkey ears / turned into donkeys when they put fun ahead of school and work. No, I don’t feel guilty if this makes them feel a little compelled to at least care about their grades. At the same time, I’m not going to “expect” anything in particular.

  4. starlaschat says:

    I just became aware that I had test anxiety and as I look back at my schooling I think this was an issue I just wasn’t aware of it. I think it wonderful that Bailey works so hard in school. I understand wanting to give him all the good things in life. I think is natural for parents to want the best for their children. Hope all is well with you Nikki and your getting ready for fun in the sun.;+). Can you believe it’s snowing here today and it snowed yesterday. But before that we had some amazing warm blue sky days.

  5. Laura (LS) says:

    There’s “doing well on a test” and “doing well IN a test”.

    To this day, I hate taking tests, not because they freak me out, but because I sit there and find the semantics… “well it *could* be answer A because of this; but then it *could* be answer B because of this…” drives me nuts.

    But, in a Life Test? In an actual emergency (like the time Hot Rod fell down the stairs, cracked his head, and was bleeding like a stuck pig), I’m a cucumber. Cool, calm, collected, ‘get this done now, do that part later’ kind of a person. I wait until later to break down.

    Frankly, I think the second is more important than the first.

    As for Bailey? He has that internal drive to do well in school. And you’re doing a great job of channeling that drive in the right direction – graduation. He knows your expectations – that *not* graduating is simply not an option.

    Maybe, if you feel like you’re putting too much emphasis on grades (and you’re probably not, but I get how moms can feel like they’re pushing too hard on an issue), try focusing on his efforts for a while. Or talk to him about finding the job that gives him personal satisfaction, rather than a paycheck. Not that the paycheck isn’t important, but if he’s miserable, money won’t help.

    Does any of this rambling make sense?

  6. Just a Mom says:

    I love working under pressure! My parents never really paid too much attention to grades when I was a kid except to make sure I was passing. I loved taking tests because to me it was like playing a game. Studying was like going to practice all week and then the test or the “big game” would come and it was all about winning. I was always harder on myself than my parents were.
    My oldest daughter can not pass a test to save her life. I have told her to make sure she turns in all her daily work so if she bombs her test she will at least pass the class. Her big problem is going to be passing the high school exit exam that the state has here! Even if they have all their credits if they don’t pass the tests they can’t graduate.

  7. mssc54 says:

    I’m beginning to lean towards you’re a successful parent if your child(ren) end up in therapy some day.

    You see, we as parents are going to fall short at times. Even often. However, our hearts desire is to do better so we keep after it.

    Parents who don’t actively “parent” their children… well their kids will be so messed up that they won’t realize it or even know to care. They would never seek professional help. 🙂

  8. Joy says:

    I forgot to mention before that I didn’t expect anything other than what each son “could” do and they were as drastically different as night and day academically and behaviorally.

    Jason really struggled and tried really hard but just couldn’t seem to get high grades but as long as I knew he tried, passing was fine with me. His behavior was really good and he was happy so that’s what I expected from him.

    Toby got almost straight A’s but behaviorally he caused a lot of stress and I wouldn’t want to do it again so we mainly monitored the behavior and not the grades.

    We need to remember like JAM said, each child is different and we need to focus a lot on the good things they do and not put to much on them what they do wrong and we mustn’t expect perfection out of them.

    I don’t have one single worry about you Nikki. Everything you do is good and you won’t ever cause Bailey to feel bad or hurt his feelings.

  9. tessa says:

    I agree with mssc! Follow your heart. That is awesome he loves school-you’re doing great then! The results tell all. I love the pressure too like Bailey. I loved working in the ER, and loved spelling too, and it is probably why I am still in school!!! Going for my BA- I like to stay busy and have deadlines.

  10. tessa says:

    And I think just like any important topic, it is important and great you’re starting early!! Just like they say you should talk to your kids about sex, drugs, alcohol as early as they ask too, or before middle school/during.

  11. Sue says:

    I do pretty good under pressure. (I kinda have to it’s part of my job, but even before that I did) I liked school and I hated missing days b/c I felt like I missed too much info that no one would remember to tell me! I always wanted to do my best and I knew what I could do so I didn’t HAVE to pressure myself b/c I WANTED to do well. I only hope that my kids are a little more like me than my husband b/c he hated school, studying and everything that went with it!

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