How Are Your High School Kids Doing? Vol 428, Nov. 16, 2017
The other day I was out with my older friend having coffee with a few of his older friends. One of his friends observed that the grandson of one of his friends was under so much pressure with all that he was doing, that this gentleman couldn’t fathom how he could deal with it all. Apparently, this seventeen-year-old was in seven advanced placement courses, involved in two sports and had a part-time job. Now, this successful gentleman is well aware of the hard work involved to make it in life. However, even he could understand that kids do need to have time to be kids and to enjoy themselves. From his perspective, these kids have plenty of years to devote to work, so why make them deal with it so early in life? In fact, he said that for the minimum amount of money that could be earned from a part-time job, he would find it much better to just give the kid the money for the extras needed for college, so he would have time to do what he wanted.
Now, I know from my own practice that there are many kids who are feeling truly overwhelmed with all the pressures that they feel placed upon them. Some of these pressures are coming from their parents who want them to attend the best colleges, get scholarships and even get through school in less time by taking the advanced placement courses while they are in high school. These kids are the ones who tend to become anxiety-ridden or depressed because they feel that they have to always perform in order to be loved and accepted. In some cases, kids will fall into drugs and alcohol and even eating disorders, to stop having to feel the pressure. In other cases, the depressions get so bad that they may commit suicide, all because they can’t handle the pressure.
Now, I do realize that some kids place this pressure on themselves to excel. However, we need to ask ourselves why it is that they feel that they have to do this to themselves? Because this is a lot of stress that young kids really don’t need. They don’t know how to contend with it.
Please ask yourself if you are the sort of person that places a lot of pressure on yourself to excel. Ask yourself if you are placing the same sort of pressure on your own kid(s) to perform. Because life isn’t about always having to perform. It really is okay for a kid to just enjoy what they are doing without having to be the best or to win. Sometimes those things that were once enjoyed, become something that is resented and no longer desired, the fun having been beaten out of it.
Check in with your child to make sure that these activities and these courses are something that your child truly desires, or if it is only out of a sense of obligation to you, that these activities are being pursued. Hopefully, you have a good enough relationship to get the truth.
Because, if you are looking to have a happy, healthy and productive kid, “happy” and “healthy” are the most important aspects. They have a whole lifetime of productivity in front of them as the gentleman I spoke with acknowledged.