THE 3-MINUTE INTERVIEW: Katie Bugbee

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People,Lisa Gartner

Are you a "high-pressure parent"? Bugbee, who helps parents find tutors and nannies as managing editor at Care.com, said some parents can get too aggressive with expectations for their children, especially at the start of a new school year.

What is a high-pressure parent?

You're keeping up with your friends and their children, and the urgency of Twitter and Facebook is so much bigger now. It's someone who gets overly angry or upset when their child doesn't win the game or comes home with a below-average grade. These parents think they're being great parents, but they don't realize they're putting on too much pressure and not teaching their kid to make their own choice and solve their own problems.

What's the effect on children?

It could be anything: nightmares, school anxiety is huge around this time of year. I hear stories about kids not being able to sleep, even obsessive-compulsive disorder and pulling out their hair, turning to drugs, seeking out underachieving friends.

But what if a child is underachieving? Can a parent dial down pressure but get the point across?

Yes, you want to find out more about the low grade. Was it a C but the best grade in the class? Or maybe he tried his best, and you can say, "How can we help you do even better?" and maybe get a tutor involved. Maybe it's not you that should be nudging him. If they didn't try, then you have to talk about why.

Any truth to the idea that D.C. parents are particularly pressuring?

I would imagine that with college getting more expensive, a lot more parents are getting eager about scholarships, and kids feel and hear that pressure to "be the best" to get a scholarship. But in terms of region, I think it's everywhere. A parent bit a coach's ear off in Massachusetts. It's really everywhere.

- Lisa Gartner

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