Today, kids are expected to know what they want to do, where they want to go to school, and what career they’d like to have earlier than ever before. They’re expected to excel in school starting as young as kindergarten, and are even put on “success” tracks beginning in elementary school.
“They have to do well because it is assumed that all kids will/must go to college, and not just that, but they must get into the best college if they want to ‘succeed’ and be competitive in today’s job market. This is a lot of pressure on teens,” Villanueva says.
In a 2013 survey by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health, almost 40 percent of parents say their high school-age child is experiencing a lot of stress from school. In most cases, the stress is from academics, not social issues or bullying. Homework was a leading cause of stress, with 24 percent of parents saying it’s an issue.
“A little stress is a good thing,” says Dr. Mary Alvord, a clinical psychologist in Maryland and fellow of the American Psychological Association in an article for NPR.org. “It can motivate students to be organized. But too much stress can backfire.”
Chronic stress can cause a sense of panic and paralysis, she continues. The child feels stuck, which only adds to the feeling of stress.