RESOURCES FOR PARENTS
Talking to Your Kids is Key to Substance Use Prevention.
These guides will help you get the conversations started.
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"...High achieving students suffer from anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and delinquent behavior at a rate that is two to three times higher than the national average." Source
Many parents feel that pushing their kids to perform academically is necessary for a successful future, their methods may be backfiring. While it's good to encourage kids to do their best, it shouldn't be at the cost of their mental health. A 2019 Pew survey found 70% of teens felt anxiety and depression was a major problem among their peers. The stress doesn't stop after graduation. A 2016 survey from the National College Health Assessment found two-thirds of college students reported “overwhelming anxiety,” which was up from 50 percent five years earlier. Some kids are turning to stimulants like Adderall or Ritalin to help them cope with academic pressure.
Alan Schwarz discuss misconceptions teens have about stimulant abuse.
What can you do as a parent to help your kids succeed and stay mentally healthy?
1. Be a "cheerleader" and supporter for your teen: Show an interest in what they're learning, but let teachers handle the situation if they don't do homework or do it incorrectly.
2. Recognize your child's work style: If they need to take breaks in between assignments, it's ok.
3. Help your teen create a schedule that allows them to get their homework done while still giving them time for relaxation, fun and adequate sleep.
4. Don't overlook non-academic achievements: Kids of all ages should have playtime, downtime and family time every day. Eat meals together, create family traditions and enjoy an activity together.
5. Allow for downtime between activities: Kids develop their identity when they dream, explore and engage in interests outside of school.
6. Define success and identify values as a family: Let them know acing a test or being number one isn't the most important measure of success. Discuss other values such as compassion, integrity, helping others, etc.
7. Acknowledge there isn't one path to success: There are plenty of successful people who didn't get a perfect SAT score. Talk about your own failures and struggles and let them know they don't need to be perfect to have a good life.
8. Watch your words: If the first thing out of your mouth when they walk in is "how did you do on your test?" you could be implying you value grades most. Ask how their day was, what they learned that was interesting, and what they did with their friends.
9. Let them know (and remind yourself!) that Ivy League doesn't guarantee lifetime success: There's more to the college experience than the name on the building. Help your kids figure out what's the right path for them. Maybe it starts at a community college where they can explore many interests. Maybe it's pursuing a trade. Accept that their path may not be the same as the one you envisioned for them. There isn't one "right way" to do things. At the end of the day, health and happiness will help them be successful.
This list was adapted from "School Stress: 10 Ways Parents Can Help Kids Manage Stress"
"Your child’s brain is still developing until age 25, and stress can damage parts of the brain that can make them more vulnerable to drug addiction, in the same way as an early initiation of drug use"
A new report says students in high-pressure environments should be considered at risk, similarly to peers living in poverty or foster care. Experts explain how parents can alleviate the pressure.
Pushing teens to be the best is well-intentioned. We worry that they will be left behind in a competitive world. But the notion that being the best and having the most brings happiness is an illusion. And future success is not determined by good grades, Ivy League acceptances, or inflated self-esteem.
According to psychologists who study adolescent resilience, one of the biggest threats to the well-being of today’s teenagers is not social isolation but something else — the pressure to achieve, which has intensified over the past year.
MENTAL HEALTH ISSUSES
In 2019, 47% of young adults (18 -25) and 31% of high school students in Connecticut reported feeling sad or hopeless almost every day for two or more weeks.
Untreated mental health issues can lead teens and young adults to look for ways to self-medicate, including prescription drug misuse.