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Desire to Please Parents Motivates Kids at School
Date:5/12/2011

dents, with their greater sense of filial piety, may do better academically.

But adolescence is also a time for asserting independence and developing one's own identity, including the ability to make decisions, to learn from mistakes and to learn the autonomy that's necessary to be a successful adult, said Kraus, a spokesman for the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Putting kids in overly rigid environments, where the desire to achieve is imposed by parents rather than coming from their own internal drive, can be counterproductive in the long-term, he said.

"In one word, balance," Kraus said. "The key part of parenting is not to have such control over children that they aren't able to have a sense of control and identity, but at the same time to offer them the structure and guidance they need."

A second study in the same journal found that teens turn to their peers in deciding how much autonomy from their parents is appropriate, even as they overestimate how much personal freedom their friends actually have.

Ohio State University researchers conducted two studies to come to this conclusion. First, they looked at more than 500 students in 6th through 9th grades and in 12th grade. Then, they looked at the sixth and seventh graders a year later. Interestingly, they discovered that younger teens and girls wanted freedom more than older teens and boys did.

More information

For more on teen health and emotional life, visit the Nemours Foundation.

SOURCES: Eva Pomerantz, Ph.D, professor, department of psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Louis Kraus, M.D., chief, child and adolescent psychology, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, and spokesman, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry; Child Development


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