What is happening to cause all of the stress? We’ve read many articles and studies and have found many contributing factors including:
- Homework is starting earlier than ever before. I don’t remember having as much homework in elementary and even up into high school as my children have had.
- More demands for AP classes. More AP classes are available now than we had growing up and parents and colleges are putting demands on kids to take those higher-level classes.
- Colleges are requiring more of kids…just to get into the school of choice. More testing is conducted, more essays are written and more colleges are toured as part of the process.
- More internet. Kids have just about unlimited access to just about anything found online. And they put pressures on themselves to get a lot of ‘likes’ of social media channels like Instagram, and get a higher score on SnapChat.
- 24 hour news cycle. We hear about terrible things that happen around the globe almost instantly. As soon as tragedy strikes, Twitter is lighting up, and 24-hour news channels are reporting sometimes grim details.
- Too many extra-curricular activities. From school sports, to club sports, to marching band, or after-school jobs, kids go from school to activity, then to home where they may have three hours of homework waiting for them.
However, not all stress is bad. It can be good for competition and pushing kids to to do their best. Perhaps it instills a certain ‘drive’ in some kids. But parents need to be sensitive to the needs of their child. Not every child can handle multiple AP classes and the pace of the academics required for those courses. Parents put extra demands on the kids to take these classes so they can get into “better” colleges, and that can cause some undue stress in your kids.
Some tips for parents in reducing stress in their kids include:
- Listen to your kids and don’t judge them.
- Don’t minimize their feelings. We know that worse things can happen then not getting a lot of likes and comments on Instagram, or maybe that made a bad play that cost the team a win, but while we have the advantage of a better perspective, to them it’s all that matters.
- Talk with them about ways they can better manage/balance their workload and their extra curricular activities.
- Make sure they are getting enough sleep. Kids should get between 8-10 hours of sleep each night.
- Increase family time. This could even be eating more meals together where you can all talk about your day.
The song by Twenty One Pilots has lyrics that describe what many people feel like when they reflect back on their youth:
“I was told when I get older all my fears would shrink,
But now I’m insecure and I care what people think.
My name’s ‘Blurryface’ and I care what you think.
Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol’ days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out”
Then the song goes on to say:
“Out of student loans and treehouse homes we all would take the latter.”
Let your kids know that you have stress too, but without going into detail. It’s important to let them be aware that stressful situations will occur throughout their lives and to understand how to cope with situations at an early age so they can handle even more difficult situations when they are older.