The pressure of ‘people’s children’

“Why do you always compare me to others? What am I not equal to them?”, Thuc Anh shouted, leaving the room when his mother scolded him for falling out of the top 5 of the class.

This is the first time that Thuc Anh dared to argue with his mother. “Things are beyond tolerance. While my friends laugh and my mother criticizes, no one is on my side. Mom wants to be perfect, but I can’t,” the female student explained to the situation the night before.

Thuc Anh said, in her mother’s image, she must be a person “synthesized from dozens of other people”. It was the son of a colleague who was admitted directly to college; the neighbor’s daughter is in charge, knows how to take care of the housework; or their grandchild can make money from middle school. The female student said, those people have good things but are also “full of things that are not as good as me”. However, her mother always thinks that she is not equal to one of them and that is the reason why she has a hostile attitude towards people who are better than her.

Bich, Thuc Anh’s mother, understood that she shouldn’t put pressure on her child, but when she saw that she was inferior to other people, Bich was impatient and began to yell. “What’s so bad about finding good examples for your children to follow? Every generation has to withstand pressure to succeed,” explained the 39-year-old woman.

The reality shows that parents like Bich are confusing expectations with feats. “A feat is accompanying and helping a child develop, it’s a long process and requires a lot of effort and perseverance. Expectation puts invisible pressure on the child to follow, causing the child to be under pressure to learn. , grades, now more pressure from family,” said Dr. Nguyen Tung Lam, chairman of the Hanoi Educational Psychology Association.

The pressure that Thuc Anh and many other young people encounter is called “peer pressure” by international psychologists. “This syndrome has existed for a long time, but it is becoming more and more common and aggravated under the development of social networks and mass media,” said Mr. Tung Lam.

Peer pressure is a phenomenon that occurs when an individual, influenced by people of the same social group (same age, class, or colleague, etc.), has to change their attitudes, values, or behaviors in order to accordance with group standards. This can happen at any age, but teenagers are the most vulnerable. The main reason comes from thinking and personality are still in the development stage, from social norms or the desire to fit in and be recognized.

In Vietnam, there are no specific studies or statistics on the impact of “peer presure” on young people. But according to the keyword analysis statistics of Google searches in Vietnam in October 2021, there were nearly 40,000 searches for “What is Peer Pressure and its solutions”, an increase of more than 67.58% compared to a year ago. previous month. This is a record increase in the past one year and continues to increase.

Around the world, the survey of Parents for Future (network of child and parent activists) only 10% of the 860 survey respondents said that they are not affected by peer pressure. Research company Barna Group (USA) in collaboration with Impact 360 Institute conducted a study in 2021 and found that 2 out of 5 people in Gen Z will be under pressure from both inside and outside. In which, internal causes include: pressure to succeed (56%) and pressure to be perfect (42%). Regarding external factors, young people feel psychologically burdened by being judged by the previous generation (42%) and parents’ expectations (39%).

According to Mr. Tung Lam, pressure from the family easily makes children vulnerable, creating resistance and anger. Some cases of pent-up for a long time, not feeling respected easily lead to reckless actions.

Mother’s expectations pushed Thuc Anh into a taciturn person, far from family and constantly hurting himself as a way of tacit opposition. She suffered from prolonged insomnia, sometimes bursting into tears and getting angry for no reason. “But my mother only cares about class rank, not knowing the scars on my body,” sighed the 17-year-old girl.

Doctor Duong Minh Tam, head of the stress-related disorder treatment department, Institute of Mental Health, Bach Mai Hospital, said that Thuc Anh’s symptoms were depressive syndrome.

According to him, what is worrying is that in recent years, the depressive syndrome in adolescents has increased. Up to 39% of people who come to the hospital for psychiatric examination in 2020 are aged 14-19 years old. In which, the group of students at the end of middle school and at the end of high school make up the majority. The constant pressure to study and take exams, along with the great expectations of parents are said to be the causes of the current state of depression in Vietnam.

Research by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) shows that about 8% – 29% of adolescents in Vietnam suffer from mental health problems in general, 10% of adolescents suffer from mental health problems. depression. At specialized medical facilities, the number of patients visiting depression-related diseases increases by 20-30% per year.

This issue was also raised by delegate Dinh Thi Ngoc Dung, Hai Duong Provincial National Assembly Delegation at the 3rd session of the 15th National Assembly. According to Ms. Dung, academic pressure from school and family is the leading cause of autism, depression and many other psycho-physiological problems for students today.

The number of young people suffering from mental health problems is on the rise, in part due to the pressure of “being at home”. Image: Freepik.

Also because of wanting to be “like people”, many parents force their children to pursue things that are not their forte, or even impossible. Anh Dao, 40 years old, from Hai Phong registered her daughter Minh Ngoc to study violin, Japanese and German on weekends. The intention to let her children learn gifted subjects comes from the fact that colleagues constantly show off their children’s many talents, while Ngoc does not. The 40-year-old woman admits that she is heartbroken, has low self-esteem and wishes her children to be a fraction of other people’s children.

“But that’s my mother’s preference and desire, not me. She always decides for herself and thinks she’s always right,” Ngoc, 16, said. The female student said that she wanted to pursue graffiti (street painting), but her mother advised “to learn what everyone’s children learn”. Even Ngoc’s way of dressing and cutting her hair was decided by her mother for fear of being judged by outsiders.

“I feel like I’m living my mother’s life. My mother doesn’t put herself in my position, but just wants to show off my talent to friends,” lamented the female student.

According to Master of Education Pham Phuc Thinh, in addition to the desire for their children to be successful, many parents implicitly have the idea of ​​showing off their children to show their class. “Today, few people show off their houses and cars because everyone has them. They started showing off their children’s academic achievements on social networks as a feat. Many people believe that successful children must have good parents.” Mr. Thinh said and said this thought appeared a long time ago, but few people admit it.

In addition to pressure from parents, young people themselves also create peer pressure for themselves. Ngoc Diem, 22 years old, in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City is an example. Just graduated from school, but Diem’s ​​friends constantly brag about buying a house, buying a car, even opening her own company at the age of 22. Every time at a class meeting, the office worker with a salary of 7 million feels extremely self-conscious.

The feeling of inferiority to “one’s children” multiplies when Diem surfs social networks. “Photos showing off assets from people of the same age put a lot of pressure on me,” Diem sighed. She refuses all outings, class meetings and restricts her return to her hometown to avoid being compared. “I hate myself because I can’t make a lot of money. I’m a failure,” Diem confided.

Diem’s ​​act of running away is called “ostrich syndrome” by experts, that is, he does not dare to look directly at the truth. “In front of a bragging picture, young people need to be alert to determine whether it is self-made or supported. If they are made, you need to admire and learn to rise up. But if it is inherited from Parents, there is nothing to discourage you and keep striving”, Mr. Thinh said.

Dinh Trong, 23 years old, in Hoang Mai district, Hanoi transforms himself into “the man”. He built the image of a good man, rich, often traveling, going to luxury restaurants… But all phones, computers, motorbikes or expenses for going out must be paid in installments. salary 8 million dong a month. “But in return I am not compared. Many people even consider me as an ideal model for their children to practice,” Trong said.

The positive side of peer pressure is that it acts as a push to help young people strive. “In order to achieve success, I have to look at my weaknesses and work hard,” said Manh Hung, 20, a university student in Ho Chi Minh City.

To avoid being affected by peer pressure, Hung limits his social media and focuses on developing his own strengths. The 20-year-old thinks it’s lame to compare abilities with others because everyone has different starting points, goals and dreams. “Instead of living in low self-esteem, I want to become the best version of myself. Peer pressure is scary or not depends on how we accept it and deal with it,” Hung said.

Quynh Nguyen


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