How old were you when you did your first stress-relieving deep breathing exercise?
The NBC station in Charleston, SC recently did a story on the way a local middle school is reacting to the stress levels of their students. They now provide weekly announcements which include deep breathing and positive thinking exercises.
Students of every age are feeling pressure too from high homework loads, to overscheduled days. Cardiologist Dr. John Kennedy says ‘we all have stress in our lives so if you can teach kids to manage it early, we can protect them from the chronic problems of stress later in life.’
Here’s my problem…
This “solution,” although helping the short-term, is like putting gum on a crack in the Hoover Dam. Simply not going to cut it!
You have to go to the root of the problem to eliminate the stressors now before they linger into adulthood. It comes down to lifestyle choices… and honestly, much of this comes down to whether or not parents are setting adequate limits AND consistently enforcing them. How many extracurricular activities are these stressed kids enrolled in? I’ve heard (again and again) the argument that kids should participate in a variety of things so that that they will be well-rounded and have the opportunity to explore new interests that will help them later in life, but if the kids are feeling stressed by their schedule, then the negative effects are outweighing the positive. It’s time to say no to some things.
Then there’s the homework issue. I think schools are overloading kids with homework. Not every school and not every teacher, but I know it’s happening. I saw it when I was teaching. There’s nothing worse than homework that is “busy work”… the thematic crossword puzzles, the school projects that have very little meaning behind them. There’s something to be said for maximizing the seven daytime hours that are already spent in the classroom. It’s almost like we’re training kids to be workaholics, telling them that their daytime work is not enough, that they must also work into the evening. What a strange message to send.
Overall stability in the family is also a key element for a stress-free childhood. Stability comes in many forms. Are the parents frequently stressed? Are they able to eat dinner together with their family on a regular basis? Are they getting a solid night of sleep? How much time are they playing video games, on the phone, or on the computer? Are they able to watch anything they want on TV, being exposed to all of the societal crap that leads to enhanced peer pressure and self-consciousness? They have enough “reality” in the halls of their school, without being influenced by the crap on shows like Rock of Love or America’s Next Top Model.
No, it’s not healthy to shelter kids or force to live a 1950’s life in this naturally fast-paced culture, however I think many kids suffering from stress (Juvenile Adultitis) are missing out on the best parts of being a kid and are being forced to grow up way to quickly.
What do you think?