Parenting expert shares number one thing that destroys kids’ confidence

It may seem like a good idea, but this expert thinks otherwise...

A woman reading a book to a young girl
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A parenting expert has shared the number one parenting choice that destroys kids’ confidence and it's something everyone has been guilty of at one time.

Pushing your kids academically is a good thing, right? You want them to do their best and by studying, attending extracurriculars and going the extra mile with homework, they will find success and thank you in the future. Whether that means you try out this educator's 'unpopular' parenting rule that helped her raise two CEOs and a doctor to ensure a bountiful future, or you give your child one of the most successful baby names of 2023, a child's future is always in the back of our minds.

But new research by parenting researcher Jennifer Breheny Wallace reveals that instead of improving your child's chance at success, by pushing them so hard to be successful, you're actually be deteriorating their desire to succeed. She calls this 'The Encore Effect.'

child building a robot

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“The idea is kids, particularly in affluent communities, can carry a particular burden, which is to replicate their parents’ wealth,” she told CNBC

So why is this a problem? Surely every parent wants their child to be better off than they were? Of course they do, but by pushing this onto kids and not realising the changing economic climate where tuition fees are higher, colleges/universities are harder to get into, and high paying jobs are near impossible to walk into, the child is put into an impossible situation. 

“Parents and kids know today that it is much harder as we’ve ushered in this steep inequality. It is no longer a given that each generation will do as well as their parents, if not better."

Using the example of an eighth-grade boy she spoke to, Wallace shared that he wanted to be an architect. Or, at least, he did until he researched the price of his parents house, compared it to the annual salary of an architect, and changed his dream to one with an annual income that meant he could actually afford a house like his parents have. 

sad school child

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“It does not take a forensic accountant to uncover a parent’s lifestyle," she explained. "So for kids, if you aren’t able to replicate that, it registers to a child as not being able to measure up to their parents and it can feel like a failure to not be able to do as well as your parents.”

The major problem is, according to Wallace, that children are not pursuing things they enjoy anymore due to the pressure of future success and the desire for high earnings. 

While some parents think they're encouraging their children to do their best and fulfil their potential, what's really being told to the child is that they need to earn a high salary and have a successful career to be worth anything in the world. 

“Kids today are conflating their sense of self with their achievements,” Wallace said. Instead, she recommends that parents reassess the idea of success to, in turn, help their kids separate their academic achievements from their self-worth.

To get more parenting advice and family news from experts, why not read these questions to ask kids after school: 14 of the best from the experts, or learn why screens are not the enemy plus 6 reasons why you shouldn't feel guilty about screentime. We've also explored why you should set family goals at New Year with expert insight.

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse
Royal News and Entertainment writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is royal news and entertainment writer for She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with BBC Good Food and The Independent.