It seems as though every year kids get smarter and smarter. Children are starting work, applying for volunteer positions, learning to write a resume, looking into internships, and creating Linked-In profiles all before they step foot on a college campus. While this desire to excel is great, where is the limit? Can you ever be too young to set yourself up for a great future? Is the pressure too much or just enough? Will backing away from an opportunity take you out of the running for something bigger and greater? These questions are all up for debate and very much subject to specific parenting styles but the ultimate concern is that these pressures are causing irreversible damage to little human brains.
In the era of NBC's "Little Big Shots" and "Genius Junior," child stars are at the center of the public's eye. Kids under the age of ten are full-time students, athletes, volunteers, musicians, and a part of too many clubs to count. According to an Arizona State University study, children involved in too many extra-curricular activities end up with stress-related illness and a lack of ambition. Sadly the anxiety that comes along with being a student doesn't begin or end with high school.
It seems as though to get into a good college or university you much have started your own foundation, found a cure to cancer, won a Nobel peace prize, received above a perfect score on your SAT, and done it all while maintaining a 4.0+ GPA. A foundation entitled "Turning the Tide" reported that the influx of pressure placed on students, especially in high school, leads them to prioritize academic achievement over their own health and the happiness of others. As the question of juvenile mental health becomes more and more prevalent we can only wonder whether or not this desensitization plays a part in the violent actions of the younger generations.
All of the sudden, an acceptance or rejection letter, an Instagram caption, a text message, or a Snapchat determine self-worth. Over and over again we talk about increasing suicide rates, diagnosed depression in young children, panic attacks before middle school and stress-induced illness but what can be done? According to Psychology Today, there are tons of little things you can do to greatly reduce stress and anxiety in a kid's life. Some of these recommendations include prioritizing sleep, limiting screen time, rewarding every positive action, and placing less weight on irrelevant decisions and encouraging conversation.
I know what you're thinking, "Well back in MY day, we didn't need any of this psychology crap. We sucked it up and life went on". And believe it or not, you aren't wrong. Things HAVE changed. Pressures have increased and mental health has deteriorated. The mentality of education and the pressures of "success" need a limit at some point. Next thing you know, kids will have to declare their major at fifth-grade graduation.
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