Harvard grad, bestselling author, and toxic-parenting researcher who spoke to 6,500 moms and dads: The counterintuitive way to help your kids succeed

Award-winning journalist and parenting researcher Jennifer Breheny Wallace says parents' anxiety over their kids' futures can actually hinder their success.

Harvard grad, bestselling author, and toxic-parenting researcher who spoke to 6,500 moms and dads: The counterintuitive way to help your kids succeed

Many parents worry about their children. You want to make sure they are on the right track and have all the tools necessary to succeed in an uncertain world.

When your worry becomes out of control, and turns into anxiety it can have a negative impact on your mental health and that of your child. According to parenting researcher and award-winning reporter Jennifer Breheny, this can cause more harm than good and hurt your child's long-term success.

Wallace is the co-author of "Never Enough": When Achievement pressure Becomes Toxic – and What We Can do About It. She collaborated with Harvard Graduate School of Education in order to survey 6500 parents from across the U.S.

Wallace told CNBC Make It that the future had never felt more uncertain and fraught. Parents today think that getting their child into a "good college" will act as an economic life-vest.

When that worry becomes anxiety, it spreads from parents to children via a psychological process called

Emotional contagion


Numerous studies have shown

Mental health is on the rise

Over the last decade, college students in the U.S. have seen a significant increase in their tuition. One recent study suggests that college students in the U.S. have been receiving more money over the past decade.

Healthy Minds Study

In a survey of 96,000 college students in the United States, 37% said that they suffered from anxiety disorders. 15% reported having seriously considered suicide during the last year.

Anxiety disorders and depression are closely related.

Psychologists say

People who have either of these conditions can experience a lack motivation or develop a fear that they will fail, which prevents them taking risks.

Important goals require the use of important tools


She adds, "Unfortunately, I've seen from my reporting and what statistics and studies show us that the life-vest we hope to put on our children to keep them afloat and afloat in a future uncertain is actually... acting more as a lead jacket, and drowning many of the children we are trying protect."

It is counterintuitive to teach your children how to deal with stress.

Wallace suggests re-framing your outlook. You can avoid over-pressuring your children by managing your own anxiety. Your unconditional love and belief in your children's resilience can be a great benefit to them in the long term.

Remember that your concern may be false.

Wallace notes that the role of the parent is to make sure their children are equipped with the necessary skills to be successful in adulthood, especially after their parents have left them. In this sense, parental anxieties are an evolutionary response that helps parents detect and react to dangers they may face.

Wallace writes that the "biological trigger can cause false positives" when parents react excessively to factors which do not actually threaten their child's safety. For example, getting into a prestigious college.

You may overreact if you are afraid that your child won't get into the Ivy League, or the flagship university of your state because you have convinced yourself that it is vital to their future.

The "

smoke detector principle

Wallace cites Randolph Nesse as one of the many scientists interviewed by her for her book. Nesse told Wallace of a situation where a smoke alarm that is overly sensitive beeps, signaling an actual fire even though it was only triggered by a burnt bagel.

You can calm yourself down by reminding yourself that your panic is just a false alarm.

Reframe your thinking to include the future of their children. Wallace says that they will probably be fine if they do not follow the path you have envisioned. Attending a highly selective college or

Any college is better than none

It's not true that higher earnings over the long term are guaranteed.

Research has shown


Success can come in many different and often unexpected forms.

Ask yourself these 4 questions to determine if you are on the right path as a parent

Wallace speaks to the reader in her book.

Tina Payne Bryson

Parents can reflect on their anxiety by asking themselves four questions.

What activities do you and your child have planned for extracurriculars?

How are they spending their free time? Are they involved in a lot of activities that are aimed at achieving success, such as tutoring? Wallace says.

What do you spend money on to buy for your children?

Is it tutoring, coaching and traveling sports leagues? She says.

What questions do you ask about your child every day?

Are you concerned about how they are doing or what they are interested in?

What are the main issues you and your child argue about?

Wallace says that "These four questions tell you a lot about the signals you send to your children."

The majority of parents don't believe they place too much importance on their children's performance in school or at other activities. Taking stock of the things you say to your child, and the activities they have scheduled could reveal you are contributing to the stress and pressure that they feel.

Wallace also interviewed parents and psychologists in the United States for her book. She says that the children who struggled the most with anxiety, depression, and other mental issues were those who believed their worth as a human being was dependent on their performance in school or other competitive activities.

Parents and teachers rarely aim to convey this idea, but rather the message that every child is accepted and loved no matter what.

Wallace says that the task of adolescence involves helping our teens to develop a strong sense of themselves. We undermine this when we send messages - in the culture at large, in our homes and in the classroom - that their value is conditional.

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